18 July, 2015

Hate crimes against LGBT people in Hungary

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Category: European Action Day, hate crime, Homophobia
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Hate crime against LGBT in Hungary

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are often portrayed by the media and politicians in Hungary as a threatening and inferior group, posing a danger to public health and “traditional” structures, such as marriage and the family. LGBT people continue to experience stigmatization and lack of legal protection from discrimination and hate crime. Successive ODIHR hate crime reports have highlighted incidents of physical assaults and murders, showing that transgender people are particularly at risk in Hungary. Serious physical assaults carried out by groups, especially around Pride marches, are also common features of hate crimes against LGBT people in Hungary.

 

In 2008, the Parliament amended Hungarian Penal Code to criminalize hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people motivated by a bias under the specification ‘ for any group in society’. Several investigations were started based on this provision, but eventually no one was prosecuted. In 2013, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new Criminal Code which has a specific mention of hate crime based on bias in respect to one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This allowed for several cases to be brought in courts and decisions to be upheld.

Research by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Háttér Society shows that verbal and physical assaults against LGBT people in Hungary are quite common: 16% of the 1674 participants to a survey among LGBT people in 2010 reported becoming victims of such incidents. Hungarian criminal law prescribes higher sanctions for several crimes including assault, coercion and murder if committed with a bias motive based on – among others – sexual orientation or gender identity, but the provisions are hardly ever enforced.

The first conviction of hate crime against LGBT in 2013

A 24-year old male committed the murder on 25 August 2012. The victim was an elderly male pharmacist whom he got to know via personal advertisements. The murderer went to the meeting prepared to kill the victim, he took a pocket-knife and an extra set of clothes to change into. Soon after arriving to the victim’s apartment he killed the victim with 20 stabs, including one in the eye.

The police apprehended the defendant within 48 hours. He talked openly to the police about his motivation: he had been seeing a spread of gay personal advertisements in the media, and decided to “kill them all one by one”. He also shared with the police his sympathies for Hitler, his slight dislike of Jews and his detest for Gypsies and “faggots”.

A first instance court decision was delivered on October 18, 2013: the victim was convicted for homicide with a bias motive, planned in advance, committed with special cruelty; the defendant received life imprisonment. In its decision delivered on February 10, 2014, Regional Court of Appeal of Debrecen upheld the decision of the lower level court. The decision is binding.

This is the first known case where the authorities did enforce the legislation in case of a murder, and found homophobic hate an aggravating circumstance.

Assault of Pride participant in 2013

The victim was walking home from the Budapest Pride March on 6 July 2013, 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 victim suffered no injury. The TV crew of an online newspaper recorded the whole incident on video. The victim reported the incident to the police with the help of a legal aid service. Since the woman was a well-known extreme right-wing activist, it was easy for the police to identify her based on the video footage.

On 29 April 2015, the Central District Court of Pest found the perpetrator guilty of violence against other members of the community and condemned him to 3 years imprisonment and 3 years prohibition of participation in public affairs. The perpetrator was also convicted to extra 8 months of imprisonment for previous offences.

Amnesty International also reported that at the same march three people, who had attended the Pride march and were on their way home, were first verbally insulted in a homophobic and racist manner, and then physically assaulted by a group of extremists in a nearby street.

The policemen present at the scene of the incident reacted very fast, but failed to perform any identity checks of the alleged perpetrators – who were still nearby according to the victims – and did not attempt to stop or arrest them. Later, the victims identified the attackers to other policemen nearby, but the officers did not react appropriately, and allegedly called on the victims to stop the “provocation”.

The problem is not yet solved as the extreme right groups are not inprisoned and due to a bunch of neo-nazi people LGBT communities and their events like the Budapest Pride cannot be safely maintained and organised, as potential hate crimes endanger all members, participants and supporters.

Resource: Hattér Society Hungary and Amnesty International

 

 


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