Hungary’s new anti-transgender law is threatening to set hard-won LGBT rights back decades

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06/01/2020

The Hungarian parliament has voted to strip transgender people of their current rights to legally change their gender. The new law defines gender on the basis of chromosomes at birth, ending the legal recognition of transgender people. Prime minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party backed the proposed legislation, which is yet to be signed into law by President János Áder. The decision would push back the progress that has been made when it comes to transgender equality, leaving transgender people open to further discrimination. But the move is hardly surprising, given the anti-LGBT political tone that is sweeping across Eastern Europe. The new legislation redefines the Hungarian word “nem,” which can mean either “sex” or “gender.” Whilst there is often some confusion about the definition of these terms, sex is generally defined as biological characteristics, whereas gender is based upon self-perception, expression and other socially-constructed features. Transgender is defined as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression is different from what is typically associated with their sex at birth. The proposed law would see an end to the differentiation between sex and gender in Hungarian law, meaning that anyone who does not identify with their sex at birth would be denied the legal right to change their gender on legal documents. Effectively, this denies transgender people of legal recognition.

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