The European Network on Independent Living – ENIL is deeply shaken that our beloved friend, colleague, a fellow activist for independent living, vice-president of MEOSZ (the National Federation of Organisations of Persons with a Physical Disability) in Hungary, Mr Bendegúz Nagy, passed away on 29 August 2023. He was only 51.
Born in Ceausescu’s Romania, he was fighting for freedom and equality throughout his life. He started his studies in architecture in Budapest, in 1992. A few weeks after, he had a sports accident and continued his life as a wheelchair-user. He famously called his wheelchair a ‘mechanical body part’.
Bendegúz was a true hero of the Hungarian Disability Movement and one of the most forceful voices behind campaigns for full accessibility. Bendegúz was a certified architect and expert in Universal Design. Over his career, he won several scholarships that allowed him to study accessibility, universal design and independent living services, including in Sweden and in California.
Bendegúz was spearheading the first human rights-based strategic litigation case when he sued a popular café in Budapest in 2001, for not complying with legal obligations about non-discrimination and accessible services. He won the case. Bendegúz had worked actively in disability human rights organisations like the De Jure Foundation, even before the CRPD.
Besides being an adamant defender of human rights and a true fighter for human dignity for all, Bendegúz was also a world-traveller. He travelled in his signature little car, with a backpack, to dozens of countries across Asia, Africa and South America. He was also a celebrated public speaker and a photographer who held many exhibitions over the years, and also published a book featuring photos and stories of his travels.
At ENIL, we were happy to get to know Bendegúz during the Freedom Drive in Brussels, and some of us met him during his travels in Europe. In addition to sharing information about the (mostly) depressing situation in Hungary, we learned about his adventures around the world.
Bendegúz’s funeral will take place in Miskolc, Hungary, in the Mindszenti cemetary’s Lutheran chapel, on 7 September.
Rest in power dear Bendegúz, you will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.