Good News from the US, Not So Great from Central and Eastern Europe
A landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court turned June 15th into a great day for the LGBTQ community. The highest court in the US has ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which bans employment discrimination on the basis of sex, also applies to gender identity and sexual orientation. This extends protections to gay and trans workers in many US states where they could be fired legally over their gender identities or sex lives.
Things are not this happy in other parts of the world, though. In many countries, the lawmakers’ attitude toward this matter is pretty diverse – and not in the positive sense of the word. Actually, when it comes to diversity, the different countries’ stance is as unpredictable as playing online casino games. Recently, two countries with a pretty bad track record in the matter have pushed through legislation that makes things even worse.
Hungary is a European country, a member of the European Union, and, seemingly, a progressive one. Or better said, it was. In recent years, though, Hungary’s legislature passed quite a few laws that EU leaders have warned that has the potential to undermine democracy.
One of the latest pieces of controversial legislation was pushed through the Hungarian parliament in May, dealing a major blow to the LGBTQ community.
On May 19, 2020, the Hungarian parliament voted to legally define gender as “sex at birth” as registered on a birth certificate, effectively banning transgender and intersex people from changing their gender on identity documents. This move has been heavily criticized by rights groups as something that could lead to further intolerance and discrimination against the country’s LGBTQ community. Amnesty International researcher Krisztina Tamás-Sáróy called it a move toward the “dark ages”, pointing out that it tramples the rights of transgender and intersex people.
Romania is one of the countries where same-sex relationships are subject to a lot of controversies. Although it does have laws banning hate speech, discrimination, and exclusion, incidents involving these happen to this day. In 2018, a referendum was held to redefine marriage as “a union between a man and a woman” in the country’s constitution – it failed because of a historically low turnout (only about 21%, with a minimum of 25%) even though people had two days to cast their vote.
Now, the country’s lawmakers have taken another highly controversial step: a draft bill voted on the 16th of June, would ban any activities related to spreading the “theory or opinion” of gender identity in an educational context, effectively banning the idea that sex and gender could be two different things. This draft doesn’t only contradict academic autonomy but violates the anti-discrimination and gender-equality principles Romania has assumed when it was admitted to the European Union.