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Hungary passes law criminalizing homelessness, says rights watchdog


Holding a sign that says “Poverty is not a crime," protesters outside Hungarian parliament on 30 September 2013. (Human Rights Watch.)

As if being homeless wasn't bad enough.

Hungary is a country whose government has been making news for unfortunate reasons recently. Many Roma from Hungary have fled to Canada, claiming they have been persecuted by both the government and its supporters.

HRW and other human rights activists have been worried by what they've seen happening in Hungary since the country's 2010 elections, when the far-right political party Jobbik won 17 per cent of the popular vote, stoking mistrust of Roma and whipping up anger over alleged "Gypsy crime."

Now, Hungary seems to have its sights set on the homeless, another vulnerable group.
Hungary has passed a new law that criminalizes homelessness. (Hungary has about 30,000 homeless.) Parliamentarians voted 245 to 45 for the new bill, Human Rights Watch reports.

"Municipalities across the country now have a green light to impose fines, community service, and even jail time (if convicted twice within six months) on the homeless," HRW researcher Lydia Gall writes. "And it’s straight to jail for those convicted of erecting makeshift shelters."

The new law follows a decree passed this summer by the city of Budapest that banned "dumpster-diving." That law introduces fines of up to 150,000 Hungarian forints ($655), or even jail sentences for repeated violations.

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at The Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead


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So a country has a tough attitude towards homelessness. They are trying to get people on the streets into the workforce forcibly for the benefit of everyone. Instead of taking Canada's "it's ok to not work, be homeless and live off of the charity of others'" approach. There are plenty of reports that show many "homeless" people are actually not homeless and are taking advantage of the system and the charity of others. Some professional homeless make more money than the average person and drive nice cars.

I'm sure there's MUCH more to the goings on in Hungary than what is selectively being reported here.

What next? Putting the homeless on transports to some "work" camps or gulags like they did with thousands of innocent people in the 1940's and 1950's? This country drastically needs to change their attitudes about jews, romas, the homeless etc... It has to start at the top, with a clear message stating there is no tolerance for these prejudices.

"In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread" - Anatole France

This article is an outright lie, part of a long series of defamation campaign by the author who seems to have some sort of hatred against the current government of Hungary. I am originally from Hungary and not aware of such law. To be sure I scanned the Hungarian news outlets but could not find any reference to this garbage.

this is plain absurd

If Hungarians have previous had unpleasant experiences with the unruly Roma, then I believe that the Roma should be controlled.

About the homeless, I am not so sure. Hungary's economy has been deliberately destroyed from without by people who want to punish Hungary's refusal to apologize for 'crimes' committed during World War II. That is a vendetta and obviously today's Hungarians want to have none of it.

Hitler is alive and well and living in Hungary.

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