Validity Foundation - Mental Disability Advocacy Centre

Hungary: István is finally free! – As a result of Validity’s efforts, our client regained control over his life

By Validity Admin 16th February 2022


István, our client, is a talented tennis player who successfully competed at the 2018 Special Olympic Games and won a silver medal. But, for almost 40 years, István had been required to live in an institution for persons with disabilities.

Although István has never been under guardianship, and he had the right to decide on many aspects of his life, he was still forced to live at first in a big institution and then in a group home. Even in the group home, he had no control over many areas of his life, including managing his money, controlling his daily routine, or deciding who he was living with. According to the Hungarian Government, group homes are appropriate living settings for persons with disabilities. However, as Validity continues to point out, group homes are still institutions, denying people their legal right to live in the community.

When he decided to take steps to leave the group home and live independently, István was threatened with being placed under guardianship. The Guardianship Authority initiated a lawsuit aiming to strip him of his legal capacity.

While his case remained under litigation, our lawyers convinced the Guardianship Authority to provide István with support in making decisions, which enabled him to begin planning for his new life in the community. Furthermore, with the help of Validity, his support person, and the Hand in Hand Foundation, he was finally able to move out and discover and exercise his rights and freedoms.

The obvious consequence of institutionalisation is that it severely suppresses residents’ independence and adversely affects their sense of initiative. Even if the residents of the group home could, for example, go to the post office, use public transport or even cook for themselves, the institutional setting with its false protective approach completely prevents them from leading an independent life and learning to manage their day-to-day activities as persons without disabilities would. Given that István spent almost four decades in an institution, he had to learn how to take control of his daily life once he moved out.

István points out:

“It was a great experience to come out of the institution, a bit scary at the beginning. I learned where everything is, shops and stuff, I can now decide what I want to do. I’m my own boss, I’m the manager here.”

With the help of his support person, he was able to get quickly familiar with, for instance, taking care of his bills, using his credit card, travelling to his workplace or to the tennis course, and doing grocery shopping.

I met István when he was still living in the group home” said his support person. “After he moved out, the difference was clearly noticeable. It was amazing to watch how fast István got used to managing his daily life, became included in society as well as to which extent he made responsible decisions. She also noted that “since he has been able to decide on what he wants, he is blooming.”

Since István has already proven that he can live independently, and, in addition, he was officially provided with his trusted support person, Validity requested the Guardianship Authority to withdraw their application aimed to deprive him of his rights. However, the Authority remained intransigent until February 2022, when the court-appointed expert supported Validity’s arguments emphasising that our client does not need a guardian. As a result of our submissions, and witness statements together with the expert opinion in our favour, the Authority backed down and dropped the case.

Sára Viszló, Validity’s Legal Officer notes:

“The insistence of the Guardianship Authority on the procedure was incomprehensible and – in my opinion – in bad faith. The Authority subjected our client to a long and stressful procedure for absolutely nothing, instead of assisting persons with disabilities in getting access to support and in finding appropriate accommodations in the community.”

István’s case demonstrates the abusive nature of the guardianship system and the pointlessness of institutionalisation very well. The consequences of detention in an institution – missed opportunities, learned helplessness, loss of choice and control – “are not worthy to any human being” as it was emphasised by István’s support person.

Sándor Gurbai, Validity’s Impact Manager highlights:

“If the Guardianship Authority had managed to put István under guardianship, he would have been sent back to the institution. I am glad that we could assist István to resist the oppressive attitude of both the institution and the Authority. István’s story shows that with genuine inclusion and support, persons with disabilities can discover a new and meaningful life outside of institutions.”


Validity challenges the system oppressing persons with disabilities and argues for adequate assistance and inclusion instead. We will continue to support the thousands of other people in the country who live under abusive guardianship orders and in any type of institutional setting.