As COVID-19 ravages Europe, Hungary’s government focuses on stripping trans people of rights

As of Thursday, there were 585 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Hungary and 21 deaths, so the Orbán government is preparing to have parliament pass legislation attacking the recognition of transgender people and their rights. Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, the leader of the Christian Democratic People’s Party, a phantom party which survives at the pleasure of Prime Minister Orbán, is proposing a bill that will prohibit Hungarians from changing their gender on birth certificates or on any government identification. The determination of sex on official government documents will become completely unchangeable.

For most of the period after the collapse of the one party state in Hungary and the return to multi-party democracy, Hungarians could ask that their gender be changed on official government documents without much trouble. It was only in 2018 that the Ministry of Human Capacities began hindering these requests.

Mr. Semjén chose the International Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31st, to submit an omnibus bill proposal, which included the ban on changing one’s gender on government documents. This runs counter to a recent ruling by Hungary’s Constitutional Court, which considers changing one’s gender a fundamental right in Hungary. The proposed measure also runs counter to Hungarian public opinion. The vast majority of Hungarians, 70 percent according to a Medián poll from last September, support the right to change one’s gender.

Transgender rights demonstration in Budapest. Photo: Gábor Bankó.

The omnibus bill includes other problematic measures too. For instance, the proposal strips duly elected Hungarian mayors of their decision-making powers in many areas during times of national emergency, such as the current pandemic. Specifically, Budapest’s Municipal Council will no longer be able to protect the trees and green spaces in the historic City Park, long a battleground between the national government which has launched controversial construction projects there, and environmentally conscious citizens.


  1. In Hu now the trans rights issue is dwarfed by the huge problems of the late reactions and fumblings of the Orban regime (eg. two months on there’s still severe shortage in protection gear for the medics) in it’s handling of the crisis, the inadequate or missing economic support measures, the abuses of the emergency status you mentioned at the end – these are where your focus should be.

    • Avatar Hungarian Free Press says:

      The primary story, beyond the severe threat posed by Covid-19, is indeed the abuse of power through rule by decree. We published a piece on this earlier this week:

      • I agree with the assessment of absolute power being a corrupting force. And yes, they will do many wrong things. But with about 5,000 deaths in the EU today from the virus and an impending economic catastrophe, the time for checks and balances, for long debates, for political struggles is done for now. Those things can be picked up again once this thing is over. For now there is the need for someone to act and do so fast, even if they make mistakes along the way. Inaction of the Western World is what is causing the overwhelming majority of casualties to also be from the Western World.

    • 21 deaths in Hungary so far. In France, today alone there were over 1,300 deaths. Overall in the EU it was a bad day. It seems the death toll may have been close to 5,000 when all countries added up. 1 death from the virus in Hungary today. Yet somehow Observer observed “fumblings”. We will not be able to judge success or failure through this crisis at least until after the crisis will be contained and the virus eradicated in some way or another. Yet Observer is already providing a verdict!

    • Joe
      Let me put simply for you:
      the Orbàn regime is lying about the figures, as it’s being lying on every significant issue.
      See, the figures are declared top secret, hospitals are prohibited to discuss such info, they have “communications officers” under the direction of Rogan’s “propaganda ministry”. Even the mayors of Bud and Pècs were refused information which they needed to make decisions upon.
      Handling the crisis; we don’t know how this will end, but so far so bad. Just today I challenged a dupe, repeating Orbàn’s lies, to get me a couple of the “available masks” … he said his wife will be sewing some …

      • You know who else is lying about the figures? China. Don’t see the media complain about that ey you bootlickers?

      • Seriously? lack of masks? That is what you are citing as failure? Is there a single country that did not fail in this respect? Is there a single country that was fully prepared?

        As for your allegations of lying about the number of dead? It is something that Hungary could perhaps pull off with a few patients, but not hundreds, not thousands. There are procedures in place in regards to how death is handled. Most dead have families. Your ideological faction has been claiming the same idiotic charge in regards to economic growth, employment and so on. Yes all numbers are “fudged”. Ignoring the fact that those numbers do come from somewhere, not out of thin air.

  2. Oh no, the mentally ill can’t force their nonsense gender garbage onto us as much, what a horrible thing…Need I remind that the Hungarian language is quite gender neutral and unless you specifically state in the sentence itself the person in said sentence can be either male or female until that point. But hey, factual reality be damned, feelings are hurt!

  3. Avatar Bela Fekete says:

    I have no problem with this. These people need psychiatric help not encouragement.

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