Significant cases | Háttér Society

Significant cases

legal case

Case of the Trans pharmacist (2011)

After changing her legal gender, ÁNTSZ, the Hungarian National Public Health and Medical Officer Service issued a pharmacy license for a transgender pharmacist that contained reference to her birth name and original sex. With the help of our legal aid service, she made an appeal against this decision. The Hungarian Office of Health Authorization and Administrative Procedures acting on second instance found a violation of human dignity, and ordered the Medical Officer Service to carry out a new procedure, and to issue a consolidated personal pharmacy license that would not contain the birth name of the Applicant.

Toroczkai case (2009-)

László Toroczkai was found guilty and placed on a two-year probation for publishing an article on website back in 2009, titled "Gunpowder will be needed again", in which he called to violently interfere with the Gay Pride Parade. According to the court, by doing so, Toroczkai committed the offence of preparations for violating the freedom of assembly and the right to attend an election rally. In its ruling, the Court established that: "the Court has adopted its negative ruling not only on the basis of the grammatical meaning of the wording of the article, but, the well-known societal context, the events from a year earlier, the references made to such events and the way it was worded altogether allowed no other interpretation of the text but as an instigation to violent acts."

EchoTV case (2009-2012)

In July 2009, in a show titled Képtelenségek (What a nonsense!) on the Hungarian television channel Echo TV, several statements inciting to hatred against LGBT people were pronounced. With the help of the Háttér's Legal Aid Service, the Hungarian LGBT Alliance filed a complaint against the broadcaster. ORTT (National Radio and Television Commission) established that the television show was suitable for inciting hatred against LGBT people, and the statements could have violated the human rights and dignity of LGBT people. The television channelled appealed the decision, and the case was also heard at the highest level of the judiciary, the Curia (Supreme Court). The Courts maintained the decision made by ORTT, and Echo TV was ordered to go dark for 90 minutes.

Immigration case (2004-2006)

A foreigner man who had been living with his same-sex partner in Hungary applied for a permanent residence permit at the Hungarian Office of Immigration and Nationality in 2004. The Office rejected his application on the grounds that the housing and the livelihood of the applicant was not guaranteed, in spite of his partner's confirmation in writing. Legal representation of the applicant was offered by the lawyer of Háttér Support Society. On second instance, the Office found that the housing of the applicant was guaranteed, but in its decision it explained that supporting a relative as a guarantee for livelihood could be accepted only in case of relatives with maintenance obligations, and cohabiting partners shall not be considered such relatives. This case made it to the Supreme Court, and in the final decision issued by the Municipal Court of Budapest in 2006 the Office was ordered to take into account the support offered by cohabiting partners as well. 

Károli case (2003-2004)

A theology student at the Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church had his student status terminated in October 2003, after his homosexuality had been discovered. In January 2004, the University's Faculty Council published a statement, according to which "by virtue of the Bible, the Church cannot approve of (...) the training, entering into service or keeping in service of teachers and Ministers of theology, who live or propagate homosexual lifestyles". The expelled student initiated legal action against this decision, in which the Municipal Court of Budapest ruled in his favour, since his student status should have been terminated in the framework of a disciplinary procedure. In January 2003 Háttér Support Society also contested the policy itself applying the actio popularis clause of the Equal Treatment Act that had entered into force that same year. The case ended in June 2005, when the Supreme Court established that in the case of the training of ministers and Bible study teachers, the University had the right to enforce the position of the Church. Although the Court ruled in favour of the University, it also pointed out that apart from the training of ministers and Bible study teachers, church institutions are also bound by the requirement of equal treatment, and as homosexuality is an intrinsic human character, NGOs are entitled to start similar cases in the framework of actio popularis.

Survivor's pension case (2003)

After the modification of the Hungarian Civil Code in 1996, Hungarian legislation recognizes cohabitation among same-sex partners who, after having lived together for at least 10 years, are entitled to a survivor's pension. In 2003, a gay man applied for a survivor's pension after the death of his same-sex partner. The Central Administration of National Pension Insurance however rejected his application on the grounds that the cohabitation of the applicant had been in force only since the amendment of the applicable piece of legislation in 1996, therefore the preceding years of cohabitation could not be taken into account. Háttér Support Society, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to the Central Administration of National Pension Insurance, underlining how discriminative the decision was. In December 2003, the Hungarian government modified the relevant government decree, and made it clear that cohabitation before 1996 should also be taken into account when establishing eligibility for survivor's pension.

Hír TV - Terítéken (2003)

On its programme titled Terítéken (On the agenda) aired on 12 July 2003, the invited guests of Hír TV, mainly the actor Mátyás Usztics and the host of the programme, Sándor Pörzse, called gay people perverts, distorted, sick, unnatural people. Háttér Support Society filed a complaint to the Hungarian National Radio and Television Commission. Since a few days later Hír TV editors made it possible for representatives of the LGBT community and their supporters to also voice their opinion, we decided to withdraw from further legal action.

MR - Vasárnapi Újság (2001)

On 5 August 2001, Hungarian Radio talk-show, Sunday News broadcasted a report titled "Hot topic" (gay in Hungarian is meleg=hot) in which so-called experts spoke on the topic of homosexuality. Háttér Support Society, together with other gay rights organizations submitted a complaint to the broadcaster, and as their plea was unheard, they filed a complaint to the Hungarian National Radio and Television Commission. In its second-instance decision ORTT established that the TV show had violated the requirements of diverse and balanced information, however, it did not find that the programmed offended gay people as a certain group of the society. 

MTV - A Hét (2001)

On 8 July 2001, a weekly magazine on Hungarian Television titled "The Week" broadcasted a report on the occasion of the Gay Pride Festival. The report was one-sided and painted a negative picture of gays and lesbians. The interviewed sex psychologist qualified homosexuality as a personality disorder harmful for young people, quotes from the Bible were read, labelling homosexuality as a grave sin, and they even presented a fictive story on a young man who formerly had been in child care, and became HIV-positive after being raped. Háttér Support Society and several other LGBT NGOs turned first to the broadcaster, then to the Hungarian National Radio and Television Commission (ORTT). In its decision, ORTT established that the broadcaster violated the requirements of diverse and balanced information, as it didn't offer a realistic picture on the issue of homosexuality, and applied editorial techniques by which it aggravated prejudices already present in the society against gay people. 

Sziget case (2001)

In 2001 István Tarlós, Mayor of District III of Budapest, where the Pepsi Island Festival takes place every year, when learning about the organization of gay-themed programmes at the festival wrote a letter to the organizers and requested the cancelling of all such programmes. This ban was also included in the contract between the local government and the organizers. A coalition of NGOs, politicians, artists and other public figures protested against the actions of the mayor. Háttér Support Society sued István Tarlós and the local government of District III claiming the invalidity of the contract and the violation of personality rights. The court partially agreed with the petition and found that banning homosexual awareness raising events violated the prohibition of discrimination as enshrined in Article 70/A of the Constitution, and is thus invalid. Since then there have been several gay-themed events organized every year at the Sziget Festival in the Magic Mirror tent. 

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