GENEVA (29 April 2020) – A UN expert today urged Hungary to drop proposed legislation that would deny trans and gender diverse people the right to legal recognition and self-determination.
“Everyone has the right to recognition as a person before the law, including persons of diverse gender identities,” said Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The bill would negate the existence of trans and gender diverse people in Hungary and adversely impact them in almost every aspect of their daily life,” the Independent Expert warned.
A proposed change to the Hungarian Registry Act would replace the term “sex/gender” (nem) with “birth sex” (születési nem), defining it as “biological sex based on primary sex characteristics and chromosomes,” and establishes that this “birth sex” cannot be changed once recorded. Also, the legislation might invalidate existing government documents issued to trans and gender diverse people.
Madrigal-Borloz also highlighted concern that the bill was proposed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “Paradoxically, at a time when the pandemic is showing the importance of enacting gender recognition processes, the Hungarian Government is introducing legislation that would do precisely the contrary.”
According to the information received by the expert, the Hungarian Parliament has given Prime Minister Victor Orbán power to rule by decree without consulting other lawmakers before making policy decisions during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Hungary must not target trans and gender diverse people under the guise of protecting health and should strictly limit the use of emergency power to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Independent Expert said.
Madrigal-Borloz’s statement was endorsed by:Mr Dainius Pūras (Lithuania), Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health; Ms Dubravka Šimonovic (Croatia), Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences ; and Mr. Joseph Cannataci (Malta), Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.
Mr. Víctor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on 1 January 2018. Madrigal-Borloz is a senior visiting researcher at the Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. He served as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT. A member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, Mr Madrigal-Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons. Prior to this, he led technical work on numerous cases, reports and testimonies as Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has also worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica).
The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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