Petition against the criminalisation of homeless people in Hungary

The European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City supports the call for

International solidarity with homeless people in Hungary: 13th-15th February 2014

In solidarity to homeless people in Hungary we ask the Hungarian central and local governments to abolish the law that criminalizes street homelessness and to take initiatives to adequately meet the housing needs of homeless people.

The hungarian organisation for the support of homeless  A Város Mindenkié (The city is for all) wrote:  «The 2010 election brought a comprehensive authoritarian and punitive turn in Hungary: constitutional democracy was essentially abolished; labour rights were curtailed; entitlement to welfare benefits was restricted and a harsh workfare regime was implemented; asylum-seekers became subject to an unjustifiable detention regime; increasingly severe penal policies were introduced with disproportionate sanctions; the surveillance of state employees was authorised on an unprecedented scale. Since the transition to capitalism in 1990, the poverty rate and the level of income inequality have never been as high as now.

Despite years of advocacy and protests, homelessness became a punishable offence in HungaryIn November 2012, the Constitutional Court struck down a law that criminalised 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”. Homeless people can already be subjected to compulsory community work, monetary fine and imprisonment in most parts of Budapest, and several local authorities outside of the capital are also criminalising homelessness.»

Although the situation in Hungary seems an extreme case, similar tendencies are experienced allover Europe.

In Greece we experience, the last few years, an escalating housing crisis as a result of the authoritarian austerity policies implemented by recent governments and the Troika, but also because of the gradual conversion of housing into a financial asset, a product of globalized speculation. Housing precariousness and poverty have become a reality for thousands of households that face the danger of loosing their home as they are unable to pay their housing mortgage or because of their debt to public authorities. At the same time, we experience an intensified criminalization of poverty and human degradation exemplified by the inhuman treatment of people who live on the streets and the frequent operations of expelling homeless, migrants and drug dependent people from the centres of Greek cities, while the so urgently needed support to cover basic needs is scant, and the state falls back in fulfilling its obligation to protect the right to housing.

The precarisation of housing and penalisation of poverty is a common trend that we have to resist.

The city is for all!   Housing is a right for all!

more information:
* infographic video on the «homeless-free zones» in Budapest (with English text and subtitles)
* a recent article that discusses the wider context of criminalisation of homelessness in Hungary (in English)
* English translation of the main legislation on criminalisation
* video of our most recent civil disobedience action against criminalisation (with English subtitles)
* video of our most recent street protest against criminalisation (with English subtitles)
* a video of one of our earlier civil disobedience action against criminalisation (with English subtitles)
* a video on criminalisatoin by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
* previous acts of international solidarity