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Genocide Watch: Hungary

People unfurl a rainbow flag during an LGBT rights demonstration in front of the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary on June. 14, 2021. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)

Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Watch for Hungary. Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister, and his party, Fidesz, have implemented laws and policies that limit civil rights and discriminate against Roma, Jewish, Muslim, and LGBTQI+ Hungarians. The COVID-19 pandemic lock-down has expanded government power and eroded the rights of free assembly and freedom of public protest.

Hungary has a long history of discrimination against Roma. Roma people face systemic racism, popular prejudice, open harassment, and violent assault by ethnic Hungarians. 61% of Hungarians have unfavorable views of Roma. Many think that criminality is in Roma blood. The Hungarian government has been stoking ethnic tensions, further stigmatizing the Roma minority.

Roma families disproportionately live-in poverty. Despite their acute need, the government has not made any special provisions to aid Roma communities. School segregation remains a problem for Roma children, who often receive sub-par education and are 23% more likely to drop out of school than their non-Roma peers. The Hungarian government has been resistant to efforts that would increase parity between Roma and ethnic Hungarians. Prime Minister Orban criticized a recent court decision that granted damages to Roma children who had been unlawfully segregated into an inferior school system.

Hungarian Jews are targets of antisemitism. A survey of attitudes towards Jews found that 71% of Hungarians believe it is true that “Jews have too much power in the business world.” Another 59% believe that Jews dwell too much on the Holocaust. Orban and his party frequently allude to the antisemitic and white supremacist Great Replacement Theory. Orban accuses Jewish philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations of undermining Hungarian society. Jewish Hungarians report antisemitic harassment and feeling unsafe practicing Judaism in Hungary.

Fidesz, which holds a majority in the parliament, promotes Islamophobia. The party's xenophobic rhetoric includes describing Muslim immigration as an “invasion.” Among Hungarians, 47% hold unfavorable opinions of Muslims. Hungarian Muslims report frequent verbal harassment and assault.

Orban’s government has enacted laws limiting the rights of LGBTQI+ Hungarians. A 2020 constitutional amendment bans same-sex couples from adopting children. It also prohibits transgender and intersex citizens from changing the gender listed on their identification documents. Many LGBTQI+ Hungarians describe feeling unsafe about expressing their gender identity for fear of harassment, discrimination, or assault. The Hungarian government recently passed a law prohibiting LGBTQI+ content in schools, further criminalizing and stigmatizing the country’s LGBTQI+ population.

Genocide Watch considers Hungary to be at Stage 3: Discrimination. The Orban government threatens the civil rights of marginalized groups, such as the Roma, Jewish, Muslim, and LGBTQI+ populations, curtails press freedom to prevent scrutiny of the government, and fosters a climate of hatred.

Genocide Watch recommends:

· Hungary should broaden its National Social Inclusion Strategy to combat the poverty and systemic discrimination faced by Roma communities.

· Hungary should respect its own Fundamental Law protections for freedom of religion.

· Hungary should repeal the constitutional amendment forbidding legal recognition of LGBTQI+ rights, which violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

· The EU should start proceedings against Hungary in the European Court of Human Rights for Hungary's many violations of the ECHR.


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