Inhumane law against homeless comes into effect

The Hungarian government has found a uniquely inhumane way to "solve” homelessness -- it has banned living on the streets by criminalizing it.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Inhumane law against homeless comes into effect - NewsMavens
Homeless man in Budapest, YouTube

Why this story matters:

The law that came into effect on Monday may well be one of the cruelest in Europe: from now on living and sleeping on the streets will be treated as a misdemeanor. After three warnings, a homeless person could be forced to do public work or taken into custody. His or her belongings could be destroyed.

The act of destroying all their possessions -- including personal objects and photos -- has widely been seen as a particularly inhumane step.

The right-wing populist government wants the homeless to go to shelters. But there are at least two or three times as many homeless as there are free spaces in the shelters. And that is only one issue. Many avoid the shelters because they are not considered safe.

While the Fidesz government thinks of the new law as a solution to homelessness, in other parts of Europe there seem to be much more humane and effective solutions. One day before the law criminalizing homelessness in Hungary came into effect, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced that the capital would open city halls for the homeless in the winter.

Details from the story:

  • One day before the law came into effect there was a demonstration in front of the Parliament in support of "the dignity of the homeless”. Writers and poets presented pieces of writings especially created for this occasion.
  • There are 11,200 free spaces in the shelters across the country.
  • A homeless person needs to receive three warnings within 90 days before charges are pressed. 
  • A homeless person can receive more than one warning on a single day.
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