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End the Criminalisation of Homelessness in Hungary

Send a message to the Hungarian Government this Christmas: End the Criminalisation of Homelessness []

We in Ireland are in the midst of an unprecedented homelessness crisis. Almost 10,000 people are experiencing homelessness and people are sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin each night.

The Irish public is rightly horrified by the scale of the crisis. We must work collectively to tackle the causes of homelessness. We must challenge our elected representatives to do more to support those in poverty and to introduce the structural changes necessary to end the housing crisis.

But as Christmas approaches, we also think of those beyond our shores. Homelessness is an increasingly global crisis and solidarity is an important aspect of effectively tackling it.

In October 2018, the Government of Hungary made sleeping on the streets a constitutional crime. This is the latest in a succession of laws aimed at controlling and minimising the number of people experiencing homelessness in the Hungary.

The new law bans “habitual residence in a public space” and empowers police to remove rough sleepers from the street and dismantle temporary shelters. There are over 10,000 people experiencing homelessness in Hungary and around a third are sleeping rough.

Criminalising those experiencing homelessness is never the answer. Homelessness is a structural and societal problem; it is not a choice. Criminalisation risks further marginalisation and usually serves only to drive people into hidden homelessness and out of the reach of support services.

We must end homelessness, not criminalise it.

Focus Ireland works with homeless organisations in Hungary through the European umbrella organisation FEANTSA. In solidarity with those organisations and people who are homelss in Hungary, we are asking those who believe that housing is a human right to join us in calling for the Hungarian Government to reverse laws criminalising homelessness and to instead tackle the structural causes of homelessness by introducing human-rights based strategies.

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Hungarian Ambassador to Ireland

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