New Hungarian Criminal Code sanctions homophobic and transphobic hate

By Giacomo Viggiani

The President of Hungary signed the new Hungarian Criminal Code on July 13,
2012, which specifically includes references to sexual orientation and gender
identity in its provisions on hate speech and hate crime and does away with
degrading terminology on same-sex sexual relations. The law will enter into
force on July 1, 2013.
Preparatory work for a new Criminal Code to replace the heavily modified
current legislation originally passed in 1978 started back in 2001. The new
Code stretches over 120 pages and contains several provisions directly
affecting LGBT people.
Following intensive lobbying by LGBT and human rights NGOs, the new Code
extends the groups specifically covered by hate speech and hate crime
provisions. While homophobic and transphobic hate has – in theory – been
punishable under current legislation which sanctions incitement to hatred
against certain group of the population and assault and coercion committed
because of the victim's belonging to a certain group of the population, unlike
race, ethnicity and religion, sexual orientation and gender identity has so far
not been specifically mentioned in the relevant provisions. The new Code
extends the groups specifically covered to include sexual orientation, gender
identity and disability.
The new law also reforms the terminology and categorization of sexual
offences: while the previous legislation was based on a strong separation
between vaginal intercourse and any other form of sexual activity, the new
legislation does not differentiate between forms of sexual activity. This also
means that the degrading terminology used in Hungarian criminal law for
centuries to name sexual activities other than vaginal intercourse – including
any form of same-sex sexual activity – ("fajtalanság", literal translation:
"racelessness") will no longer be in use. The age of consent will remain 14
years equally for same- and different-sex sexual relations.
LGBT groups have strongly criticized the law for diverging from current
legislation on bigamy: while the Criminal Code in force treats marriage and
registered partnership in the same way, thus entering into a new marriage or
registered partnership while someone is still married to or in a registered
partnership with another person was a criminal offence, the new legislation
maintains bigamy rules only for spouses. While the practical relevance of this
new provision is minimal, it demonstrates well the insistence of the
conservative government to distance heterosexual marriage from other family law

Pubblicato da Lorenzo Bernini