Under the new ban written into Hungary’s constitution, homeless people caught living on the streets multiple times over a period of 90 days can face fines, mandatory public work, and even imprisonment. After several warnings, police officers are even allowed to destroy homeless people’s personal belongings.
But believe it or not, this isn’t the first time Hungary has enacted this policy – so, how did we get back here?
It started in April 2012, when, in the midst of a widespread economic crisis, the Hungarian government began enforcing a law that criminalized homelessness.
Unemployment and poverty were on the rise. In a 2010 survey on homelessness, 14% of respondents said they lost their home because they couldn’t pay their rent or other bills.
That might not be all that surprising, given what human rights groups say is just one part of a larger slew of human rights violations being committed under the Hungarian government. Under Prime Minister Orban, the government has passed a law making it a crime to help refugees and asylum-seekers, cracked down on independent media, and banned gender studies courses from universities because quote, “people are born either male or female.”
The EU says the new homelessness law is one example of why it has voted to sanction Hungary and potentially rescind its EU voting rights.