Hungary’s parliament has passed a bill to end legal recognition of transgender people.

Just weeks after dropping their ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood, a move which seemed unusually progressive, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s right-wing government have made a change in law which activists have said will push the country “back towards the dark ages”.

The new law, which was voted through the legislation by 134 to 56, defines gender as based on chromosomes at birth, and takes away the right of trans people to alter their gender and name on official documents.

This is not only damaging for the mental health and wellbeing of trans individuals, but could also be a risk to their safety as they can no longer choose a name that fits with their identified gender, a factor which could lead to them being regularly ‘outed’ in their daily life.

“This decision pushes Hungary back towards the dark ages and tramples the rights of transgender and intersex people,” said Krisztina Tamás-Sáróy, Amnesty International’s Europe Researcher.

“It will not only expose them to further discrimination but will also deepen an already intolerant and hostile environment faced by the LGBTI community.

“It is critical for Hungary’s Commissioner for Fundamental Rights to act urgently and request that the Constitutional Court review and swiftly annuls the appalling provisions of this law.

“Everyone’s gender identity should be legally recognised and everyone must be allowed to change their legal name and gender markers on all official documents.”

Legal gender changes have been frozen in Hungary since 2017, and now all existing applicants as well as any new ones will be rejected.

The change in law comes amid growing concern over the stability of LGBTQ+ rights – particularly trans rights – in many countries during the coronavirus pandemic, especially where social distancing regulations make protesting difficult.