We invite our friends all over the world to join our struggle against the tragic changes in the Hungarian legislation concerning homelessness. Our call is desperate in the sense that, despite all the good reasons and even an opposing Constitutional Court decision, a last ray of hope is the clear and strong objection of the international community to the criminalization of homelessness.
As you may already know, the Hungarian government has taken a series of oppressive actions against homeless people over the past three years. These ordinances, laws and local actions seriously violate the dignity of thousands of citizens living in poverty. While hardly taking any positive and sustainable measures to ensure the social rights of Hungary’s most vulnerable citizens, the government’s approach to poverty and homelessness has been predominantly punitive.
In November 2012, the Constitutional Court struck down a law that criminalized street homelessness, arguing that the state should address homelessness as a social and not a criminal issue. In response, the governing party decided to change the Constitution itself, enabling local governments to punish “habitual residence in public spaces” and define further “antisocial” behaviors.
Currently, the Hungarian Parliament is once again debating the modification of the Penal Code that would define street homelessness an infraction punishable by fine, community service or jail (for “repeat offenders”). In this way, the government is ignoring the serious criticism that has come from the Commissioner for Civil Rights, the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, FEANTSA (the European umbrella organization of homeless service providers) and two special rapporteurs of the UN, among many others.
In addition to penalizing street homeless, the new law introduces a new element by criminalizing the building of shacks in public places. Today, self-built shacks provide a home for thousands of people in Hungary. If the law is passed, their very existence will become a crime.
We, homeless and ally members of The City is for All are asking you to help us stop this inhumane piece of legislation and express your solidarity with homeless people in Hungary. We suggest two ways of doing so:
- Please send a brief letter to the Hungarian Minister of Interior, Sándor Pintér, who submitted the modification and ask him to withdraw the legislation. His address is: firstname.lastname@example.org (please cc us in your email: email@example.com).A sample letter can be downloaded here.
- If your time and resources allow, you may also organize a solidarity demonstration on or before September 30, 2013 (the day of the vote and a large demonstration by The City is for All). If you do so, please send us pictures or videos so that we can publicize on our website and Facebook-page the international protest against the ongoing war on poor people in Hungary.
We hope that you will find a way to support our struggle. If you have any question regarding the events to be organized, the documentation, or the campaign itself, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for all your support!
The City is for All