NGOs discuss human rights in Hungary

20 April 2011, Budapest (Hungary). At a “constructive dialogue” event held at lunchtime today in Budapest, civil society organisations laid out key concerns about human rights of people with disabilities. The event was held during a conference on the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 hosted by the Hungarian government, which currently holds the rotating EU Presidency.

For the event, the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (MDAC) produced a briefing paper entitled, “Disability rights in rhetoric and reality: bringing the Hungarian EU Presidency home”. MDAC staff as well as Stefánia Kapronczay from the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and social policy academic Zsolt Bugarszki, laid out concerns about the human rights of people with disabilities in Hungary. These include the disability discrimination in the new Hungarian Constitution (see MDAC’s statement on the Constitution); the lack of coordination and monitoring of disability law and policy; the lack of participation of civil society in policy-making; the exclusion of people with psycho-social (mental health) disabilities from disability law; the fact that there are 67,000 Hungarian adults with disabilities stripped of their legal capacity; the social exclusion of more than 24,000 people with disabilities forced to live in long-term institutions; and the fact that these institutions are not monitored by an independent inspectorate.

Critical to its understanding of the universality of human rights, MDAC extended an invitation to the Hungarian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Tamás Dombos from the Hungarian LGBT organisation Háttér explained how the new Hungarian Constitution cites the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, but neither age nor sexual orientation is listed as prohibited grounds of discrimination, as they are in the EU Charter. In removing these grounds, the Hungarian government has chosen some rights at the expense of others, a move which ignores the intersectionality of discrimination.

Around thirty participants attended the side event, including governmental representatives from two EU Member States, from the Embassy of the United States, and from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. No representatives of the Hungarian government attended. MDAC will make a summary of the “constructive dialogue” and send it to the relevant authorities.

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