Significant cases | Háttér Society

Significant cases

legal case

Youth center case (2018)

The Szeged LGBT Community informal group held their regular meetings at Új Nemzedék ('New Generation') youth center. In November 2017 they were informed that neither them, nor any other LGBTQI organization can hold events at any of the youth centers belonging to the same network, as these organizations are 'too political'. The Equal Treatment Authority found that argument discriminatory and imposed a 100 thousand HUF fine on the network. 

Childcare benefit case (2018)

After a member of a gay couple adopted a child, they decided that not the adoptive father, but his registered partner would stay at home with the child. The Budapest County Office informed them that this was not possible, and only the adoptive father can access childcare benefit (GYED). After an exchange of legal arguments with the Office, the Office changed their opinion and clarified that the registered partner of an adoptive parent also has access to childcare benefit in the same way as the spouse of an adoptive parent would. 

Magyar Hírlap case (2017)

The conservative daily newspaper Magyar Hírlap published an opinion piece after the Pride March in which they called for banning homosexuals from becoming teachers and theater directors, and allowing registrars to decline officiating registered partnership and police to decline protecting Pride Marches. We turned to the National Media and Infocommunications Authority, which found that the newspaper incited to discrimination and imposed a 150 thousand HUF fine on the publisher. This was the first case the 'incitement to discrimination' provision of the Media Act was applied in case of sexual and gender minorities.

Swimming pool rejection case (2017-2018)

A swimming pool owned by a district local government in Budapest declined to rent out two swimming lanes to an LGBTQ sports association after they found out that the nature of the organization. We represented the association in front of the Equal Treatment Authority that imposed a fine of 1 million HUF on the swimming pool.

University of Debrecen case (2016-2018)

In April 2016 the Hungarian LGBT Alliance and the CívisColors local LGBTQI group wished to organize a roundtable discussion on the psychology of coming out at the University of Debrecen in cooperation with a department of the university. A room has been reserved, but when the dean of the faculty was informed about the event the organizers were called to a meeting with a rector where the event was banned from the campus. The organizers moved the event to a cultural space, but due to the opposition of the University's leadership they also cancelled the reservation. The Equal Treatment Authoirty found the ban to be discriminatory, and imposed a 100 thousand HUF fine on the university. case (2016-2017) is the Hungarian Government's information portal on family policy. The Hungarian LGBT Alliance asked the editors to clarify on the website that registered partners are entitled to all tax benefits afforded to spouses and that the list of family organizations published on the website include the Rainbow Families Foundation. After the editors declined the request we took the case to the Equal Treatment Authority, who found that the Ministry of Human Resources and its company, the Családbarát Ország Nonprofit Közhasznú Kft. operating the website acted in a discriminatory manner.

Pécs adoption case (2016-2017)

A women living in a lesbian partnership applied for adoption. The authorities found them to be suitable parents, and they were offered a 1.5 year old Roma girl to adopt. They had already been taking care of the baby for three weeks when the adoption procedure was halted by the authorities. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights found that the authorities' rejection of the adoption amounted to discrimination based on sexual orientation, and it also infringed on the child's right to protection and care, as well as the couple's right to fair treatment. 

Foreign marriage case (2016-)

A Hungarian-American lesbian couple got married in Belgium. They applied for their marriage to be registered in Hungary, but the authorities rejected the registration both as marriage and as registered partnership. The courts ordered the marriage to be registered as registered partnership, but the Curia (highest court) found the court judgements unlawful due to the fact that the couple's original request was to register the marriage as marriage not as registered partnership, and the courts could not have ordered the relevant authority to do something the applicants did not explicitly ask for. A new request to registered the marriage as registered partnership is being submitted.

Trans asylum seeker case (2016-)

An Iranian trans man received refugee status in Hungary due to being persecuted in his home country. He filed for legal gender recognition with the Hungarian authorities, who declined his request arguing that he is not a Hungarian citizen, and should apply for legal gender recognition in his home country. The Constitutional Court found that it was unconstitutional that Hungarian legislation did not allow for legal gender recognition for foreign persons legally residing in Hungary, but no new legislation has been adopted so far. The case is also pending at the European Court of Human Rights.

Trans job applicant case (2016)

A trans women awaiting legal gender recognition applied for a job as a shop assistant. Her application was rejected arguing the position is only available for women. When she claimed she was a woman, she was laughed at. The Equal Treatment Authority found the rejection of her application discriminatory based on sex and gender identity. This was the first employment-related case the Authority found discrimination based on gender identity.

Family housing benefit case (2016)

An information bulleting published by the Ministry of Human Resources contained that only married couples are entitled to family housing benefit on the basis of their planned children. After an exchange of legal arguments with the Ministry, the bulleting was amended clarifying that same-sex registered partners are also granted family housing benefit.

Inheritance tax case (2015-2017)

After the National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV) granted surviving registered partners the same inheritance tax benefits as spouses only on appeal in two individual cases, we asked NAV to systematically revise all similar cases. Instead of such a review NAV and the Ministry of National Economy issued an opinion that same-sex registered partners are not entitled to any of the tax benefits granted to spouses. We turned to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, who found this opinion to be discriminatory and an infringement of the rule of law. Subsequently NAV amended all its forms and information materials to clarify that registered partners are afforded to all tax benefits granted to spouses. 

Miskolc association case (2015-2016)

A group of LGBT activists in the city of Miskolc decided to found a registered organization under the name Miskolci Mások ('Others in Miskolc'). A local ordinance required them to ask permission for the use of the name of the city in their official name. The mayor of Miskolc declined their request. The Equal Treatment Authority found the decision to be discriminatory and imposed a 500 thousand HUF fine on the city government.

Pride assault case (2013-2015)

A participant of the Budapest Pride was walking home after the March, when he met a larger group of anti-gay protesters shouting “Dirty faggots! Dirty faggots!” A woman in her thirties left the larger group, walked up to the man, tore of his rainbow badge and hit him. The court found the woman guilty of violence against a member of a community, and sentenced her to three year imprisonment. Háttér provided legal representation to the victim throughout the investigation and the court case. This is the first known case where the hate crime provision of the Criminal Code was applied in case of a homophobic attack.

Waldorf case (2013-2015)

In 2013 a 13 year old boy raised by a lesbian couple applied to a school belonging to the Waldorf network. He was offered a place in the school, but after his mother told the school he was raised by two women, the teacher informed the parents in writing that the school cannot admit the child due to his 'family status'. The Equal Treatment Authority imposed a 50 thousand HUF fine on the school, and the court awared 350 thousand HUF damages to the mother.

Pride homophobic chanting case (2012-2016)

In 2012 participants of the Budapest Pride March were harassed and extreme right wing protestors who chanted homophobic slurs such as 'Dirty faggots!'. At least one person was also physically assaulted (kicked); he was represented during the investigation and the court case by Háttér. The court found one perpetrator to be guilty of violence against a member of a community arguing that freedom of expression is not unlimited, threatening others or exhibiting other frightening behavior is suitable to make the participants of a march feel alarmed. This was the first case in which the courts applied the 'threatening behavior' paragraph of the hate crime provision in the Criminal Code to sexual and gender minorities.

Pride ban case (2012-2014)

In 2011 and 2012 the police banned the Budapest Pride March, however, the court found both bans to be unlawful and the Marches were held as planned. An individual and Háttér Society as a public interest litigator sued the police arguing that the ban was not only unlawful but also discrimiantory on ground of sexual orientaion. The court found that indeed the police decision amounted to direct discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as harassment, as the police decision was suitable to create a hostile environment against sexual minorities. The police was ordered to issue a letter of apology.

MLSZ case (2012-2013)

We submitted a complaint to the Equal Treatment Authority aginst the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) as same-sex couples and their children were not entitled to family tickets for the games of the Hungarian national team. We settled with MLSZ and as a result rainbow families also have access to cheaper tickets and the family sector of the stadium. 

Trans pharmacist case (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 (2009-2011)

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. 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 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, 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 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, 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 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 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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