Hungary blocks domestic violence treaty over gender, migration

Hungary blocks domestic violence treaty over gender, migration
Hungary blocks domestic violence treaty over gender, migration

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's party argued that protections from domestic violence already existed in law. — Reuters pic

BUDAPEST, May 5 — The Hungarian parliament today rejected the ratification of a treaty to combat violence against women, backing a government declaration that the measure promotes “destructive gender ideologies” and “illegal migration”.

Spearheaded by the Council of Europe, the Istanbul Convention treaty is the world’s first binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, from marital rape to female genital mutilation.

Presented by the rights watchdog for ratification in 2011, the convention was signed by a majority of EU member states including Hungary in 2014.

But the Budapest assembly, which has one of the lowest proportions of female lawmakers in Europe, stalled on ratifying it.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party argued that while it agrees with the substance of the treaty, all legal guarantees to protect women from domestic violence are already contained in Hungarian law.

It also rejected references in the treaty text to “gender” and to obligations to receive refugees persecuted over sexual orientation or gender.

The treaty text’s “ideological approach is contrary to the Hungarian legal order and the convictions of (the government),” said Lorinc Nacsa, a lawmaker from the Christian Democrats, the junior coalition partner of Fidesz, who sent the government declaration to parliament.

It would also “speed up or simplify” immigration to Europe, he said.

The declaration’s approval was blasted by opposition politicians who cited the worldwide rise in domestic violence during virus-related lockdowns, and slammed the government’s record on gender equality and helping asylum seekers.

In the years after Orban came into power in 2010, he rewrote the central European country’s constitution and included a definition of marriage in Hungary as a union between a man and a woman.

His anti-immigration and conservative social policies have included a 2018 decree, also proposed by the Christian Democrats, effectively banning universities from teaching gender studies courses.

A recent draft bill submitted to parliament seeks to block access to legal gender recognition for transgender people.

Rights groups say this exposes trans people to potential discrimination in employment, housing, and accessing services and official procedures. — AFP

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