BBC tells us about Hungary's effort to outlaw living on the streets:

The law was brought in by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, but the United Nations called it "cruel" insisting it goes against human rights.

It effectively outlaws living on the streets and was first approved by the Budapest parliament in June.

The government says that allowing police to remove rough sleepers from public places is in the "interests of society as a whole".

If the government is able to provide shelter and other social services, I am wondering why is this considered against human rights.

Question: Why is not allowing homeless people in the streets considered against human rights?

  • 15
    "If the government is able to provide shelter and other social services" : In that if lies the answer. Orban's government doesn't even seem to plan any effort in that direction. It is a textbook example of blaming and punishing the victim for their own misfortune, in other words it is fighting the homeless people instead of fighting the homelessness.
    – Evargalo
    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:55
  • @Evargalo consider putting an answer together about this. I would definitely upvote such an answer.
    – Leon
    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:29
  • 3
    @Leon In order to turn this comment into a good answer, it would be good to do some more research about homelessness in Hungary and what the government does to shelter homeless people.
    – Philipp
    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:42
  • 1
    @Philipp definitely and hence why I didnt just to post this as an answer but rather put an answer together based on this.
    – Leon
    Dec 21, 2018 at 10:06
  • 3
    "The law in it's majestic equality..." Dec 21, 2018 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


The human right in question is the right to liberty:

Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

Where the cases are 1) Conviction of a crime. 2) Remand, while a crime is being investigated. 3) Mental breakdown, where you are a danger to yourself. 4) Prevention of infectious disease.

Now most people become homeless for all sorts of reasons, and have all sorts of underlying problems. Some, perhaps most, would welcome the opportunity to get off the streets and into a hostel. However there are two big issues.

  1. Money. Giving people shelter costs money. Is the government prepared for the significant costs of moving rough sleepers into housing. Remember that nearly all rough sleepers have additional problems, they may be addicts, or sex workers. They may have a criminal past or criminal present. They might have significant mental health problems. Is the government prepared for these costs? Just making rough sleeping won't make the other problems go away. What happens when the money runs out? Are you going to say to someone "You are unable to have a house or hostel & you can't sleep rough"? What option do you give someone in that position?

  2. What if someone says no. Consider an alcohol addict. He has been living on the streets for several years. He has no family or friends, and he doesn't want to move to a hostel. When he is offered a place at a hostel, he just leaves. Is it reasonable to criminalise his behaviour? Is it reasonable to deprive him of his liberty in this case?

The UK once enforced "vagrancy" laws. They weren't very effective at reducing rough sleeping and tended to channel the homeless towards criminal activity.

If the government is able to provide shelter and other social services, it can do this on a proactive but voluntary basis without depriving anyone of their right to liberty.

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