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Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Anti-Discrimination Legislation Constitution of Hungary

Article 14 of the Basic Law guarantees “fundamental freedoms for all persons, without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, nationality, disability, language, religious, political or other opinions, property, estate or other status”.

Article 15 of the Constitution refers to “prohibiting discrimination on racial, gender, religious, political grounds, as well as skin colour, language, social origin, property status, etc.”

One of the amendments to the new Constitution of the Republic of Hungary states that Hungary shall protect the Hungarian language; respect the languages of nationalities and ethnic groups residing in the country, as well as languages of other countries. The Constitution also protects the freedom of religion. However, the numerous amendments to the Constitution and legislative acts create confusing in the protection of ethnic minority interests. As already mentioned, the basic law of the country contains bias towards Christianity, while national minorities are represented as citizens “living alongside the Hungarian nation”.

The government reinforced its words with actions – introducing several amendments to the Criminal Code (Law 100/2012), providing punishment for “pitting one part of the people against another”. Furthermore, membership in anti-Semitic groups is considered a criminal offence as well as violence against people. Holocaust denial is criminalised in Hungary.

In May 2012, Parliament introduced amendments to the Criminal Code, which outlawed the openly offensive behaviour, real or perceived threats towards the members of racial, ethnic or other groups. Amendments also introduced criminal responsibility for unsanctioned actions to maintain public order or public safety that prompted fear in others. This became government’s response to the “patrolling” of Roma neighbourhoods, which is popular among the neo-Nazis. Furthermore, responsibility for Holocaust denial was also introduced.

In 2013, sexual orientation and gender identity was included into the basis of hate crime. In accordance with Article 269 of the Criminal Code, any person who incites to hatred against (I) the Hungarian nation or (II) any other national, ethnic, racial or specific group, will be sentenced to up to three years in prison.

Article 332 of the Criminal Code prohibits incitement to hatred towards the society. Amendments also introduced sanctions for disruption of public order, intimidation of the public. These particular changes were a response to neo-Nazi “patrols” in Roma quarters. Holocaust denial is now punishable by law. At the same time, Hungarian Criminal Code equates Nazi crimes and Communism, which negates the meaning of Holocaust and the Nazi genocide in Europe during 1940s.

Unlike many other countries, hate crime is considered a separate type of crime in Hungary. However, the Criminal Code does not consider racism or other prejudices as an aggravating circumstance.

Article 15 of the Constitution refers to “prohibiting discrimination on racial, gender, religious, political grounds, as well as skin colour, language, social origin, property status, etc.”

Hungary officially fulfils all European and international regulations prohibiting any form of discrimination, including Directives 2000/43/CE from 29/06/2000 and 2000/78/CE from 27/11/2000. In 2004, Hungary adopted the Law “On Equal Treatment and Equal Opportunities”, which introduced the concept of direct and indirect discrimination and prohibited discrimination on the grounds of age, sexual orientation, illness, race, ethnicity, religion or belief.

To monitor the enforcement of the Law “On Equal Treatment and Equal Opportunities”, Hungary instituted an Antidiscrimination Agency in 2005. Since 2012, minority rights are monitored by the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman, which is considered the most important body for monitoring discrimination. However, its authority is limited, largely due to the current government’s policies that upset the balance of power between the executive, judiciary and the legislative authorities.

Unfortunately, Hungary does not record violent hate crime statistics. Police, prosecution and judiciary are reluctant to recognise racism as an aggravating circumstance in a crime and the Criminal Code does not contain corresponding provisions. There is also no information about the ethnic composition of victims of such crime. One of the main problems is the fact that Hungarian police are not trained in identifying the nature of hate crime; there are no regulations for police procedures in such cases.

Article 14, Paragraph 3 of the Hungarian Constitution deals with asylum seekers and refugees, who are “subjected to persecutions in the country of their origin or permanent residence on the basis of their race, nationality, religious or political beliefs.” Fundamental laws governing migration in Hungary include the Law on Refugees, Law on Entry and Stay of foreign citizens, the Hungarian Citizenship Law and Education Law. Hungary does not have a separate law on migration.

Hungarian Law on refugees defines refugees and the basic criteria for the recognition of a refugee, an asylum seeker, or a person under temporary protection. In general, Hungarian legislation on refugees corresponds to EU standards in the field of refugee reception and application procedures. The law also prescribes the procedure for refugee status recognition. The law “On Entry and Stay of foreign citizens” prescribes rights and obligations to third country citizens in terms of entry and stay on the Hungarian territory. It also allocates responsibility and authority of various government bodies on regulating the entry and stay of foreign nationals. The law corresponds to the EU Directive 2004/38/EC “on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.”

Foreign citizens who have permanent residence permits and refugees do not have to apply for work permits in Hungary. Temporary residents and asylum seekers must apply for work permits. The latter can apply only a year after their asylum application. The Citizenship Law was modified in 2010, entering into force in January 2011. It simplifies the procedure of obtaining Hungarian citizenship for persons of Hungarian origin. For other persons, the procedure of obtaining citizenship remains rather difficult. Formally, they can only obtain it after living in Hungary for eight years with a permanent residence status (three years for spouses of Hungarian citizens). The citizenship application can also be rejected without explanation and with no right to appeal. Amendments to the Citizenship Law were adopted in 2013, according to which the Hungarian permanent residence permit can be obtained in exchange for an investment of more than 300 thousand euro.

Furthermore, the law tightened requirements towards the candidates for refugee status and the internally displaced persons – the authorities reserve the right to send them home in the event that their application was rejected once. Previously, persons belonging to this category of immigrants had the right re-submit their statement for the second time. Illegal migrants cannot apply for asylum or any other form of protection in Hungary. Law on Asylum LXXX (2007) contains the term “persons in need of special treatment”, which prioritises asylum for unaccompanied children.

In 2014, Hungary adopted a Migration Strategy for 2014-2020.

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