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;
- living on earnings from prostitution;
Buying sexual services is not prohibited.
Services for sex workers: Legal, health, social services.
Sex workers’ movement: SZEXE unites sex worker activists.
The newsletter is titled Hetaeras (Hetérák) after the elite mistresses in ancient Greece who alone, among all Greek women, were allowed to manage their own affairs. We translated an article on an opinion poll on sex work in Hungary.
Budapest, 1 December, 2009 -- A first issue of HETERAK is issued in Hungary. The newsletter is dedicated not only to Hungarian sex workers and the situation with sex work in Hungary, but also to the situation in the world.
Download the HETERAK in pdf format here.
September 3, 2009, Budapest -- The Association of Hungarian Prostitutes (MPEE), a member of SWAN in Hungary held a press conference to highlight the results of a recent survey on the opinion of mainstream population about prostitution in Hungary.
April 30, 2009, Budapest -- Prostitution has already been legal in Hungary for 10 years and it might still be legal while not such bright future awaits the clients. Anti-trafficking organizations in Hungary are pushing for the introduction of Swedish type of legislation, according to which the client commits a crime when buying sexual services from a prostitute.
Prostitutes working in the southern Hungarian city of Pécs and its surroundings have recently been subjected to tax audits by the Hungarian Tax Authority (APEH). Sex workers were first monitored by the police; data collected about their activities were handed to the APEH, which then started audit. One sex worker sued the APEH.
The Hungarian Prostitutes’ Interest Protection Association (SZEXE) was founded in 2000, soon after prostitution became legal in Hungary. The NGO started to work first as an interest representation of women sex workers at disadvantage, and in 2002, homo- and transsexual sex workers joined also the association. SZEXE aims at protecting sex workers’ rights and helping sex workers willing to quit to spend as little time in prostitution as possible. In order to achieve these aims, SZEXE runs a free legal aid service and a 24-hours hot-line, provides assistance and counselling in health and social issues, promotes safer sex, implements training projects for unqualified sex workers and advocates for respect for sex workers’ rights. Recently, SZEXE (with state support and cooperation) started to operate a mobile HIV & STI testing unit. More