Editor’s Note: This law, which criminalizes the homeless (most of whom live in Budapest and are Roma), comes at the same time that Hungary is urging its EU neighbours to present their plans for Roma integration. Is the incarceration of Roma part of the Hungarian plan for “integration”?
“By a wave of the legislative pen, the Hungarian Parliament has labelled tens of thousands of homeless people in Hungary as potential criminals. Moreover, the law has a discriminatory impact on those living in poverty.” Homeless persons should not be deprived of their basic rights to liberty, or to privacy, personal security and protection of the family, only because they are poor and need shelter.
An estimated 30,000 to 35,000 people, including numerous women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities, are thought to be homeless in Hungary. About 8,000 of those live in Budapest, the capital, but the city has only 5,500 available places in public shelters.