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Parliament rejects the Istanbul Convention

May 7th, 2020

A liberal author blasts the pro-government majority in parliament, which passed a resolution on Tuesday against ratifying the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. A pro-government site and an independent legal analyst disagree, although for differing reasons.

In a resolution submitted by four Christian Democrat MPs, Parliament rejected the Istanbul Convention finding its definition of gender ‘unacceptable’ and deeming its gender-based immigration rules inconsistent with Hungarian law. The bulk of the Convention, namely the protection of children and countering violence against women, is already embedded in Hungary’s legal system, the declaration says. Opposition MPs accused the government side of turning a blind eye to female victims of domestic violence.

On Mérce, Zsófia Varga doesn’t find the decision surprising as the government has for years opposed the concept of gender as a social construct, and even banned the accreditation of gender courses in Hungarian universities. She lists a series of tragic cases of domestic violence to prove that the present legal setup is insufficient to protect women from physical abuse. She also sharply condemns MPs who voted for such a resolution during the coronavirus emergency, when domestic tensions are exacerbated by the partial lockdown.

In addition to quoting the arguments of the government side in Pesti Srácok, László Vésey-Kovács finds seven points in the Convention which put men at a legal disadvantage. He also mentions that in refusing to ratify the Istanbul Convention, Hungary has followed Slovakia’s example. The Slovak Parliament in fact revoked the government’s signature of the Convention last February. Vésey-Kovács mentions that the Convention hasn’t been ratified by several other EU member countries (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Lithuania) as well as Great Britain.

It its report on the vote, Azonnali refers to an earlier article on the same site by legal analyst Bea Bakó who dismisses liberal concerns about the government’s refusal to ratify the convention, arguing that  violence is already a crime under Hungarian law. She explains that new paragraphs will not improve the plight of the victims of domestic violence. What would be needed is to spend a huge amount of public money to pay social workers and psychologists, who could help potential perpetrators and victims alike before it’s too late.

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