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Hungary’s top court throws out Viktor Orbán’s bid to retroactively deny legal status for trans people

Emma Powys Maurice March 13, 2021
Hungary

Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, at a press conference in February (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/ Getty)

Hungary’s top court has thrown out Viktor Orbán’s attempt to implement a retroactive ban on trans people’s gender identity being recognised in official documents.

Launched last year, the devastating law known as Section 33 legally erases trans people by forcing them to use deadnames and the gender they were assigned at birth on all ID documents.

It effectively outlawed legal status for all transgender people, including those who had already changed – but on Friday (12 March) the Constitutional Court ruled this retroactive action was unconstitutional.

It means that Section 33 cannot apply to any trans people who legally changed gender before May 2020, a process that can take up to a decade in the country.

Anyone beginning their transition after May 2020 remains unable to gain legal recognition, but Reuters reports that activists are encouraged by the decision and said multiple legal challenges have been filed in its wake.

The small victory comes amid an onslaught of attacks against the Hungarian LGBT+ community led by Orbán’s right-wing nationalist Fidesz party after he was granted absolute power due to the pandemic.

As well as stripping away trans rights he has also limited same-sex adoption and redefined marriage in the Constitution as the union between a man and a woman.

The review of his law to end legal gender recognition was ordered in November after an eastern Hungarian court ruled that it violates constitutional rights to human dignity and private life.

“[The bill] is particularly abusive in light of the fact that many trans people had submitted their application years ago,” argued the Háttér Society, Hungary’s top LGBT+ rights group.

While the group celebrated the latest court decision, Háttér spokesman Tamas Dombos warned that new legal procedures are still banned under Orbán’s law.

The Háttér Society is now pursuing litigation for the Constitutional Court to declare the entire Section 33 unconstitutional, with the hope of overturning it later this year.

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