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Hungary against gender ideology. Parliament rejects the Istanbul Convention

Published: 18.05.2020

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The Hungarian parliament adopted a declaration calling on the government to refrain from ratifying the Istanbul Convention. The MPs opposed the introduction of gender ideology into law, claiming that it diverges from the beliefs held by most Hungarians. They also called for the government to push back against the European Union’s accession to the Convention. Additionally, the parliament emphasized that Hungarian law already protects women against violence.

The Hungarian National Assembly adopted a “Political Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children”, in which it opposes the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention. In the declaration, the Hungarian Parliament explained that it does not support the ratification of the Convention because “it does not want to introduce the concept of gender into national law.” “We have the right to defend our country, our culture, our laws, our traditions and our values against a gender ideology-based perspective that deviates from the beliefs held by the majority of our people,” the Political Declaration states. At the same time, the Declaration emphasizes that Hungarian law already contains all instruments needed to protect women against violence.

The parliament called on the Hungarian government to refrain from further steps related to the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, as well as to push back against the European Union’s accession to it. The National Assembly's declaration was adopted by a majority of 115 votes, with 35 MPs voting against and 3 abstaining.

The Convention is the result of initiatives aimed at making European countries adopt standards, as part of which the concept of violence would be considered a phenomenon conditioned by the so-called “gender” (a term that is often incorrectly translated into Polish as “socio-cultural sex”). The gender ideology considers the existing gender roles and differences between men and women to be a result of oppression, which women have been supposedly suffering from throughout history. It also rejects the importance of biological sex for the different social roles that men and women play.

Although Hungary signed the Convention in 2014, its provisions can only enter into force once it has been ratified by the president, who must obtain the parliament’s consent before doing so. In total, 13 members of the Council of Europe refuse to ratify the Istanbul Convention. Apart from Hungary itself, this list includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Czechia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

“The Hungarian Parliament's decision to refuse to ratify the Istanbul Convention is a voice of reason in the discussion on fighting violence against women. In reality, the Convention does not help women whatsoever but rather is an ideologically motivated act which assumes that preventing violence must consist in dismantling the natural social structures based on the diverse and complementary roles of men and women. It is a society constructed in this manner that is supposedly the very source of oppression and discrimination against women. Meanwhile, empirical research shows that the primary causes of violence are social dysfunctions such as alcoholism, drug addiction, demoralisation of young people, breakdown of family ties and sexualisation of women in the mass media,” said Karolina Pawłowska, Director of the International Law Centre of the Ordo Iuris Institute.

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