Just imagine what it would be like to be able to eradicate all social and human problems by means of legislation from one day to the next. It would be great!
Under the motto of safeguarding Christian culture, the Hungarian government prohibited homelessness under Fundamental Law, allegedly to ensure that public spaces are used by the public.
As of 15 October 2018, homelessness is prohibited in the whole country.
Let’s ban it, let’s make it disappear. It’s so unpleasant to see all those people in the underpass and by the gates! Noone likes such an ugly sight. Moreover, they stink! It’s horrible, why do they do this? Why can’t they take care of themselves? Something has to be done: decent, working Hungarian citizens should not have to put up with this. Public spaces are for us to use, without any inconvenience. Us - normal, working, money-making people who shower every day.
As if anyone wanted to become homeless. As if anyone chose to sleep on the street instead of a proper place to lay their heads.
According to the legislative committee which presented this proposal, the state provides various means to maintain human dignity.
However, while experts estimate that there are around ten thousand homeless people in the capital and around thirty thousand in the whole country, there are only ten thousand beds available to them in Hungary altogether. Not to mention the absurdity of talking about human dignity when it comes to the insufferable conditions of homeless centres.
As long as the state is obliged merely to aspire to provide appropriate housing conditions, it can’t be forced. The homeless will not have the right to claim lodging from the government let alone a flat for their use.
Nevertheless, it will be prohibited to reside in public spaces in the whole country. By law, policemen, public area controllers, even rangers and foresters will have to implement this regulation, since it implies that as of October, sleeping in the forest or in a field is against the law.
The amendment of the law on violation of regulations planned to enter into force in October will provide a chance for officials to harass people sleeping on the streets. Wherever they might be in the country, if they don’t leave when requested, they will be committing an offence.
Only one drop of hope remains: that policemen, public area inspectors and other officials would be humane.
Experience and data show that although there already are many areas where sleeping in public is legal offence, homeless people have not been asked to pay a fine. The police often asks them to identify themselves and leave, of course, but the policemen know all well there’s no use fining them. They simply can’t pay, which means they would have to go to jail.
Even though the current government hates to spend money on the poor, the Fundamental Law stipulates that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide housing for the homeless. We have requested data of public interest from the Ministry of Human Resources in order to find out what provisions they plan to introduce in order to put a roof over the heads of the homeless by next winter, when, in the name of Christianity, they will have been made illegal on Hungarian streets.