Hungarian homeless hit by ban on rough sleeping

BUDAPEST: Hungary’s estimated 30,000 homeless face an uncertain winter after new laws against sleeping rough were approved this week allowing municipalities to create vagrant-free urban areas.

They mean that places such as pedestrian zones, parks, playgrounds, or underpasses can be declared off-limits for rough sleeping for public order, health or safety reasons.

Those who refuse to budge after receiving warnings risk being sent on public works schemes, given fines or even jail terms for repeat offences.

UN World Heritage zones, which includes swathes of central Budapest, will now automatically be no-go-areas for the homeless, while people in “unauthorised” self-made shacks could face fines and possibly prison.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the legislation was an example of the “undermining” of EU values and rights protection since Prime Minister Viktor Orban came to power in 2010.