"My life can finally begin": after two years of legal struggle, Hungarian authorities allow legal gender recognition
In May 2020, the Fidesz-KDNP made it impossible to obtain legal gender recognition in Hungary. Háttér Society has been fighting the inhumane law on all platforms since the amendment was passed; now five of their clients have succeeded.
Section 33, passed in May 2020, banned the possibility of changing the sex at birth and name of trans and intersex people in their official documents. Since the adoption of the law, Háttér Society has been assisting clients with advice, drafting submissions and, if needed, with legal representation.
Section 33 also stipulated that the newly introduced ban shall apply retroactively to where the client had submitted their request for legal gender recognition before the law entered into force. As a result of the litigation and advocacy efforts of Háttér Society, in spring 2021 the Constitutional Court held that the retroactive application of the ban on legal gender recognition was in violation of the Fundamental Law.
Although everything required at the time of the application was available for the Government Office to proceed in the cases submitted prior to May 2020, it has appointed an expert committee in all cases. The Government Office conditions the outcome of its final decision on the supporting expert opinion even though supporting medical opinions were mandatory parts of the original application.
Following an unnecessarily lengthy and overwhelming procedure for clients, the Government Office has finally notified this week the local registrar to make the required change of sex and name in the birth register. Our clients can then request their new birth certificate and new documents issued on the basis of it.
"I was very excited and when I read my letter, I couldn't believe that I had finally done it. I was in tears of joy. I can't tell you how happy I am. I have finally achieved what I wanted, even if I had to wait four years for it. I'm really happy and it's an incredible feeling for me right now," said one of our clients.
"Although the whole process took so long, it was worth the wait as it is an invaluable feeling when you finally have the name and sex of the person you are in your ID. I do have a sense of victory and I feel like my life can finally begin. I no longer have to feel ashamed that people asking for my ID will look at me strangely in the most mundane of situations. I think we all deserve this, we just want to live our lives without any interference," shared another client.
"It's a huge success that the Budapest Government Office has finally decided on the five applications and instructed the registrars to transfer the sex and name changes. The procedures of the past years show how law enforcement bodies, in particular the government office, try to obstruct the implementation of the now uncontested human rights standards laid down in the decisions of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Every person has an inalienable right to their own name to express their identity - as the Constitutional Court declared in 2018. Transgender people have the right to change not only their name but also their gender or sex marker, based on the right to equal human dignity protected by the Fundamental Law. We are very happy that five trans people will soon be able to live their daily lives with documents that reflect their identity. We will continue our work, these five proceedings have confirmed that with a lot of patience and perseverance, the long awaited positive decision in the pre-Section 33 cases can be achieved. Our aim is to make legal gender recognition accessible to all again," said Dr Eszter Polgári, Legal Programme Officer at Háttér Society.
"Háttér Society will continue to fight against the unlawful transphobic laws, as we all have the right to live in dignity and safety," added Luca Dudits, executive board member.