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Country information: Hungary (Magyarország) is a landlocked country in Central Europe situated in the Carpathian Basin.

Human Rights 2015: an overview by Amnesty International.

HIV/AIDS rates: A cumulative total of 2 115 HIV cases, 656 AIDS cases by the end of 2011 according to WHO.

HIV prevalence among sex workers: 0%.

Legal situation around sex work: Sex work is legal.

Sex work in Hungary has been legal and has been regulated since 1999 under Act LXXV. Sex work is allowed as long as sex workers comply with the criteria set forth within the law. However, these criteria are often vague, overly broad and arbitrarily enforced by police representatives and judges.

The criterea are as follows:

  • street sex is permitted in so-called „tolerance zones”:
    • these zones need to be identified in each municipality, but in practice the authorities are reluctant ot identify such zones;
    • soliciting, offering and advertising sexual services in protected zones are also prohibited, which may lead to fines and when unpaid this may lead toa detention.
  • sex workers must possess entrepreneurial permits;
  • sex workers mustregularly pay taxes;
  • sex workers must attend obligatory health checks every three months to get a health certificate.

Any person who violates these restrictions on sexual services commits an administrative offense and shall be punished by confinement or fine. The law determines that for an unpaid 5.000 HUF fine (approximately 15 EUR) the sentence of one day imprisonment can be received.

Since 2012 a new law on misdemeanors affects sex workers. Since then, police officers are allowed to fine sex workers on the spot for being non-compliant with the often vague regulations surrounding sex work (i.e. for offering their sevices in ill-defined or undefined protected zones).

Sex workers are frequently charged with offences they did not commit, such as littering or violating pedestrian or traffic regulations.

The Criminal Code punishes the following:

  • renting a buiding / place for another person to engage in prostitution;
  • maintaining or operating a brothel, or providing financial means for the operation of a brothel;
  • engagement of the underaged;
  • soliciting;
  • living on earnings from prostitution;
  • pandering.

Buying sexual services is not prohibited.

See more detailed information on legal situation around sex work in Hungary >>HERE in English and >> HERE in Hungarian.

Services for sex workers: Legal, health, social services.

Sex workers’ movement: SZEXE unites sex worker activists.

Latest news

By admin on Jul 4th, 2014

July 1, Budapest - SZEXE, a Hungarian organization that stands to unite and protect interests of sex workers in Hungary, hosted conference “Nothing about Us without Us!”. The aim of the conference was provide safe space for Hungarian sex workers to tell their view and opinion on current situation with sex work in Hungary and the recent move of European Parliament to criminalize clients of sex workers. Besides journalists, politicians, civil society organizations and academia, among the invited were supporters of a campaign Europe without Prostitution and anti-trafficking organizations.

By admin on Dec 20th, 2013

Our sex worker colleague's, Bella's message to fellow sex workers in the world. She has been an amazingly active sex worker activist for years.

By admin on Jul 1st, 2013

We have recently published an article, detailing participation of SZEXE, Hungarian Association of sex workers, in CEDAW hearings. Even though the fact and the conclusions reached by the Committee did not become the center of attention back home, some of the Hungarian media decided to engage into conversation. Below is an article from the communist newspaper Nepszava reporting on SZEXE and CEDAW shadow report.


By admin on Jun 24th, 2013

The Association of Hungarian Sex Workers recently represented Hungarian sex workers at the 54th Session of CEDAW, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Geneva, in February 2013. By using the submission of a shadow report and active advocacy at the session , the Association achieved a landmark success in its history: the Committee recommended that the Hungarian government ‘adopt measures aimed at preventing discrimination against sex workers and ensure that legislation on their rights to safe working conditions is guaranteed at national and local levels’. 

By admin on Feb 21st, 2013

Application deadline: February 28, 2013.
Where: Summer School of Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary
When: 15-19 June, 2013

Human rights litigation is one of the methods by which civil society organizations can bring about social change. This course for human rights professionals will develop the skills and knowledge needed to successfully bring cases to the regional human rights systems and the UN Treaty bodies, and to use those cases to achieve practical change. Participants will be invited to provide information on concrete cases that they are involved in which will be discussed during the course.

By admin on Dec 17th, 2012

December 17, 2012. Budapest - SZEXE, the Association for the Rights of Sex workers has held a discussion and a screening of a film about sex workers in Hungary. "Where is the Truth?" features sex workers and their allies who describe the working conditions and safety issues of sex workers and how they affect their lives.

With the support and technical expertise of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), the SZEXE team hopes to demystify the air around sex work and to bring more attention to what human rights violations sex workers face in their everyday life.

The 40-min film will soon be available in English and Russian.

Visit SZEXE website here: http://szexmunka.hu/

Follow and like on Facebook here.

By admin on Dec 15th, 2011

By Anna-Louisa Crago
What is the Global Commission on HIV and the Law (GCHL)?
It is a commission put in place by the UN to study the impact of different laws on HIV-prevention, treatment and care. It also studies the impact of laws on discrimination and violence against people living with HIV or at high-risk of HIV.

The commissioners are a group of highly respected individuals and experts from around the world and include former heads of state, judges and policy experts. They are advised by a committee of technical experts with extensive knowledge about HIV and the law.

The commission is particular because it is independent of the UN. That means that the commissioners can come to their own conclusions, even if coutries within the UN or UN workers disagree with these.

What does the GCHL have to do with SWAN?

Individuals and groups from the CEE/CA, as well as other regions,were invited to submit testimony about the impact of different laws and HIV. SWAN submitted a submission that tried to include experiences from all across the region. Many other SWAN groups individually submitted such as HOPS (Macedonia), Lega-Life (Ukraine) and HESED (Bulgaria).

By admin on Dec 15th, 2011

By Marija Tosheva, HOPS

In late June, 2011 the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, hosted a meeting in Budapest for 30 delegates from the countries of Central and South East Europe (SWAN was also represented), with supporters from Western Europe, to launch the Network of Low Prevalence Countries in Central and South East Europe – NeLP (http://nelp-hiv.org/budapest-declaration).

By admin on Oct 4th, 2011

SWAN is seeking a responsible, accurate and communicative person for a part-time position of Administrative Assistant.

Application deadline: October 10, 2011
Read Terms of Reference here.

By admin on Apr 27th, 2011

Issue 1 of 2011 features:
*  an interview with an HIV positive person, who tells the readers about his life and illness, warning sex workers to always use a condom and to pay attention to their health, no matter what requests they get.
* an article about the current grant from Mama Cash won by SZEXE.
* a short report from SZEXE legal aid provider on the new legislation on misdemeanors and its effects.
* history of Easter
* professional tips for sex workers
* a reports on a garbage collection campaigns, with photos. The campaign aimed at clearing the territories where street sex workers are active, in order to make local residents more tolerant towards sex workers and to make sex workers more aware of their environment and the damages they may cause to it through littering, throwing away plastic bottles, condoms and other garbage.
* a call for participation in its newly launched project under TAMOP program, with support from the European Social Fund and the Hungarian governement, aiming for holding health prevention events for sex workers.

Read in Hungarian here.

By admin on Mar 15th, 2011

The Association of Hungarian Sex Workers carried out a postcard campaign with SWAN support on December 17th. We prepared the attached postcard with the picture taken at the red umbrella march which also celebrated our association’s 10th birthdays. We sent the postcards to our key partners, newspaper and magazine editors, members of parliament, decision makers, NGOs, as well as to international networks. This was the first occasion when we used the power of choosing and delivering our own message; usually we are represented in the media in the form of quotes, reports or interviews. We think that this is a proactive method to catch the public’s attention, so we decided to put a greater emphasis on new media initiatives (promoting sex worker blogs, advocacy videos, etc.) in the future. We got positive feedback so far: several journalists contacted us who we were not in contact before.

By admin on Mar 8th, 2011

The Association of Hungarian Sex Workers (SZEXE) celebrated its 10 year anniversary on the September 20th, 2010. The celebration included a short media sensitization and information session using SWAN materials and then speeches Ms. Ágnes Földi, chairwoman of the organization and Mr. Tamás Árva, the legal aid provider of the Association.

By admin on Mar 8th, 2011

An article by a Hungarian sex worker
Before I tell you about my experience in Vienna, I would first like to congratulate everybody who put so much effort into organising the Journalist session and the Sex Workers Pre-Conference meeting. It was a joy, a pleasure and an honour to partake in these meetings as a Sex Worker and if I was asked to partake again, I would gladly do it.

By admin on Mar 8th, 2011

By Aliya Rakhmetova
July 16, Vienna, Austria - The International AIDS Conference (IAC) was preceded by a number of events to provide space for journalists, communities representatives, networks and researchers to make their participation in the IAC as meaningful as possible. In the framework of the IAC, SWAN was invited to hold a training with the National Press Foundation (http://www.nationalpress.org), whose primary mission is to increase journalists’ knowledge of complex issues in order to improve public knowledge.

By admin on Mar 7th, 2011

July 18-23, Vienna, Austria – This year sex workers and allies from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia had a chance to talk about barriers and issues that sex workers face in their countries, to show what groups and organizations have achieved in addressing the pandemics and violations in their region. The Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) was represented by 11 activists from Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Montenegro, a team of young and energetic volunteers from Odyseus, Slovakia and a performance group from Bliss without Risk, Czech Republic.

By Aliya on Jul 11th, 2010

March, 2010, Budapest – The beginning of March proved to be busy and full of events for some of SWAN members. SWAN representatives from Tais Plus (Kyrgyzstan), Legalife (Ukraine), Humanitarian Action (Russia) and the SWAN secretariat were invited to Budapest by the Open Society Institute to take part in an intensive 5-day hands-on training in creating advocacy films.

By Aliya on Jul 11th, 2010

On Saturday, May 29, 2010 the third and final generation of SWAN groups participated in a training on media sensitizations in Tirana, Albania. Genci and Enkelejda of Aksion Plus were gracious hosts in their beautiful city. Representative from sex work projects from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro and Latvia participated in the one-day event which also brought together sex workers from Hungary, Albania and Bulgaria.

By Aliya on Jul 11th, 2010

June 3, 2010
By Anna-Louise Crago
Over all the ethical breaches and problems surrounding media representation of sex workers echoed those of previous SWAN groups who did the media sensitization trainings. The fact that Hungary has a legalized system with tolerance zones contributed new dynamics and issues to think about.

By Aliya on Jul 11th, 2010

Boglárka, of the newly renamed Association of Hungarian Sex Workers informs us about recent research on Hungarian sex workers and drug use. The findings deconstruct many stereotypes about who gets high and why.

By olga on Apr 7th, 2010

Issue 1 of 2010 features a long interview with Swedish SW Pye Jacobson, who tells the readers about the legal regulation of sex work in Sweden and its consequences on SWs and their clients. There is an article about the current phase of the AIDS epidemic and the means of protection. This is followed by a country profile of Albania, with an insight into the local commercial sex scene. There is an article on the hazards of gambling as a type of addiction and its adverse social consequences. Readers are acquainted with the history of the Busho-march, the famous and traditional early-spring masquerade in the streets of Mohács, Hungary. Finally, there is an article on the Venice Carnival.
The Hungarian Association are in the process of officially changing their name from Hungarian Prostitutes’ Advocacy Association to Hungarian Sex Workers Advocacy Association. The reason behind the change – as explained by representative András Szabó – is that the expression “sex worker” is much less burdened with the stigmata and prejudices regularly associated with the term “prostitute”. The change will, therefore, place the organization in a better position regarding the tone of the public discourse on the rights of sex workers.
You can download the newsletter PDF here.