Immigration, asylum | Háttér Society

Immigration, asylum

immigration, asylum

It is one of our key objectives that immigration law recognizes same-sex families, and persons persecuted based on their sexual orientation or gender identity are recognized by the state as refugees.

In 2006, our Legal Aid Service achieved that unmarried cohabiting partners including same-sex cohabiting partners were able to provide their partners with housing and financial support required by immigration law. This legal procedure played an important role in the more expansive definition of family in the new immigration act adopted in 2007, which included the possibility to recognize cohabiting partners of Hungarian and EU citizens to be recognized as family members. The final solution to the situation was brought by the introduction of registered partnerships in 2009: the legislation prescribes that same-sex registered partners are treated in the same way as different-sex spouses in most areas of life, including immigration.

In October 2010, we reviewed bill no. T/1320 on the amendment of certain migration-related laws for the purpose of legal harmonization, and proposed that the asylum act explicitly mentions persecution based on gender identity, that the concept of "family member" in all immigration and asylum laws apply consistently to cohabiting partners as well besides spouses and registered partners, and that registered partnership is included consistently in all immigration and asylum legislation. In 2011, we prepared an opinion on the bill amending immigration laws, and drew attention to the inconsistencies in the inclusion of registered partnerships.

In 2014 - through the Hungarian LGBT Alliance - we prepared a detailed opinion on the draft bill on asylum and migration laws, and we achieved that in the next draft submitted for public consultation, gender identity was explicitly mentioned as a ground for persecution. Unfortunately, the adoption of the bill was swept away by the 2015 migration crisis and the government's anti-refugee hate campaign, and the bill was never submitted to the Parliament.

In 2019, as part of a comprehensive reform of immigration laws, changes were included that also affected registered partners and some authorities interpreted the changes as registered partners of Hungarian citizens no longer being recognized as family members. We convinced the Immigration and Asylum Office to issue a legal opinion that the changes do not affect the recognition of registered partners as family members, they are still treated in the same way as spouses. The change, however, adversely affected the unmarried / unregistered cohabiting partners Hungarian citizens, who are no longer entitled to reside in Hungary as family members, while the spouses of EU citizens are still entitled to do so. The Hungarian state is therefore putting its own citizens in a more disadvantaged position, which we have spoken out against in several forums.

The fact that Hungarian authorities do not currently recognize same-sex marriages concluded abroad even as registered partnerships also impacts immigration: in order to be recognized as family members, the couple has to repeat the ceremony in Hungary to apply for a family purpose residence permit. In order to avoid this bureaucratic burden, in 2017, during the discussion of the new law on private international law, we submitted an opinion through the Hungarian LGBT Alliance to include an explicit provision stating that foreign same-sex marriages be recognized as registered partnerships. Since our proposal was rejected, we submitted a complaint to the European Commission because the Hungarian legal practice clearly violates EU law (the case law set by the Coman decision).

Since 2012, we have been a member of the Working Group for Asylum and Migration of the Human Rights Roundtable established by the government, within the framework of which we achieved that the gender identity of transgender people is recognized during the asylum procedure when deciding the gender of case workers and interpreters, and in placement decision. In 2020, at our initiative, the Working Group discussed in detail the situation of foreigners living in Hungary with HIV.

Our legal aid service regularly advises same-sex couples on immigration issues; we currently represent several couples in national and European level legal proceedings regarding the recognition of their same-sex marriage concluded abroad.

We have held several trainings for lawyers, police officers and social workers working in the asylum field on the specific needs of LGBTQI asylum seekers.

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