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May 07, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Yes to protection of women, no to gender ideology and illegal migration

The Hungarian Parliament passed a declaration this week, refusing the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Here’s why.

Acting upon an initiative of the governing Fidesz-KDNP alliance, Hungary’s National Assembly passed this week a declaration that refuses to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, dated 2011 and widely known as the “Istanbul Convention.”

The protection of women and the fight against domestic violence have always been of central importance to the government. In fact, it was an Orbán Government that issued a zero-tolerance policy on violence against women when it took power in 2010 and assigned to domestic violence an independent statutory definition in the new criminal code of 2013.

Had the Convention stuck to the protection of women’s rights, Hungary would have been among the first countries to ratify it and adopt corresponding domestic legislation. In fact, we have already included most of the Convention’s recommendations, those pertaining to the protection of women, into Hungarian law. But the Convention went far beyond this, with its final text including sections that could not be incorporated into our domestic law because they run counter to Hungary’s constitution, the Fundamental Law.

One of these sections is found in Article 3(c), where the Convention defines “gender” as “socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men.” This “social gender” definition, however, conflicts with Hungary’s constitution because the clause denies that there are only two biological genders, male and female. Without biological genders, for example, Hungary’s constitutional definition of marriage (the matrimony of a man and a woman) would become void. And if something contradicts the Fundamental Law, it cannot be adopted by Parliament.

In Chapter VII. Article 60 on “gender-based asylum claims,” however, the Istanbul Convention goes even further, attempting to intervene in the sensitive field of migration policy. It requires that signatories to “take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that gender-based violence against women may be recognised as a form of persecution.”

Such an extension of the legal category of “persecution” could clearly lead to a dramatic increase in the number of migrants who set out westward to Europe. Also, there is one possible interpretation of Articles 60 and 61 that would automatically grant “gender-based asylum” to applicants. In other words, if certain conditions are met, the ratification of the Istanbul Convention would mean that Hungary may be forced to grant entry to illegal migrants on grounds that run contrary to Hungary’s well-established policy of discouraging and putting an end to migration.

It is difficult not to see the Convention as yet another attempt by pro-migration groups to find a way to force the issue of migration.

By refusing the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, Hungary, says “Yes!” to the protection of women but “No!” to gender ideology and illegal migration.