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Conversation between Under-Secretary Scalfarotto and Hungarian Secretary of State János Bóka on the Istanbul Convention and the new rules on transgender people

A telephone conversation today between the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ivan Scalfarotto, and the Hungarian Secretary of State for European and International Cooperation in Justice Affairs, János Bóka, during which the Secretary of State asked his colleague for more information about two recent decisions of the Hungarian Parliament that have raised debate and concern in Italian and international public opinion.

These are the failure to ratify the Istanbul Convention against Violence against Women and the rule of law that identifies the sex of people as ‘sex at birth’.

With regard to the Istanbul Convention, Mr Bóka pointed out that, in the opinion of the Government of Budapest, the Hungarian legislation in force already offered legal protection equal to that of the Convention, whose ratification would, therefore, be considered unnecessary.

The rule on the inclusion in the birth certificate of the notion of ‘sex at birth’, which, according to many international observers, is an obstacle to the legal recognition of transgender people, was the subject of a specific study. The rule raised the remarks of the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović. They called it ‘a violation of human rights’, and a letter from 63 MEPs to the Hungarian government requesting its deletion.

In this regard, the Hungarian Secretary of State indicated that the Hungarian government is aware of its international obligations in this matter arising in particular from the European Convention on Human Rights and the Jurisprudence of the International Courts; the measure would be effective only on the drafting of the birth certificate and would therefore not imply, on the part of Budapest, a desire to limit the right to gender change.

As for the possibility of obtaining new correct documents (passport, identity card) after the completion of the transition, an essential element to fully understand the scope of the new legislation, the Secretary of State of Magyar Justice specified that this is the competence of other departments and assured further information to his Italian colleague once the relevant provisions will be clarified.

Mr Scalfarotto thanked his counterpart for the clarifications and concluded by stressing to his Hungarian colleague the great attention that Italian public opinion pays to the issues of the rule of law and the individual rights and freedoms of people within the European Union.