Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orban immediately moves to strip away trans rights after being granted absolute power

Viktor Orban

Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orban has moved to strip away trans rights as one of his very first acts after his pandemic power grab.

On Monday, the Hungarian parliament agreed to extend Orban’s already strong powers by granting him the right to rule by decree indefinitely, meaning he no longer needs to consult other lawmakers before making decisions.

His powers came into effect on Monday morning, and by the evening his deputy Zsolt Semjén had introduced a new bill which, if passed, will replace “gender” with “birth sex” in all legal documents issued in the country.

The effect of this is that Hungarian citizens will be unable to change their gender legally, a significant rollback of rights in the eastern European country.

Since data in official documents such as ID cards, driving licenses and passports are taken from the civil registry, the change would affect these as well.

The explanatory memorandum of the bill states that current legislation does not define “gender” as it is determined biologically, adding: “The gender entered into the civil registry is based on facts determined by doctors, declared by the registry.”

It further states: “Given that completely changing one’s biological gender is impossible, it is necessary to lay it down in law that it cannot be changed in the civil registry either.”

Viktor Orban

Viktor Orban at a coronavirus press conference in Prague on March 4, 2020. (Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty)

In recent years Orban has refused to join his European neighbours in backing LGBT+ rights, declining to ratify the Istanbul Convention for its definition of gender as a social construct.

In 2015, he blocked an agreement to prevent LGBT+ discrimination in Hungary, and in 2017 he hosted and spoke on behalf of a vile anti-LGBT+ group in Budapest.

His latest bill will be terrifying for Hungary’s trans and non-binary community, and it will not escape their notice that it was proposed on the eve of Trans Day of Visibility, adding insult to injury.

In recent years Orban has been heavily criticised for his increasing oversight of the judiciary, media and foreign universities, and the new emergency measures will cement his power by effectively removing all checks and balances.

The law also introduces jail terms for spreading disinformation about the virus, raising fears it could be used to neuter critics of the government’s approach.