Disco lock-outs in Hungary

15 May 1998

The Roma Press Center (RSK) reported on April 9 that many public establishments in the south-eastern town of Békéscsaba deny entrance to Roma. According to RSK, close to half of the popular nightclubs of the town do not allow Roma to enter.

In December 1997 the Local Gypsy Self-Government informed the notary and the mayor of the town about the existence of this problem, but received an answer stating that they cannot restrict the operation of private enterprises without a valid court decision. The Gypsy Self Government invited the police and the owners of the discos concerned to meet with them, but none of the owners showed up. The police chief of Békéscsaba told those assembled at the meeting that although discrimination against Roma is against the law, the police cannot force the owners to serve Roma customers.

Imre Furmann, director of the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI), told RSK that the police do not in fact lack the legal means to act against the nightclub owners. For example, the Law on the Police states that police may arrest a person who does not stop committing a minor offence after being warned. Additionally, the trade department of the local government, which issues and withdraws the licences of public establishments, is also obliged to see to it that such establishments function in accordance with the Law on Consumer Protection, which contains anti-discrimination clauses.

The Békéscsaba Gypsy Self-Government intends to request a statement on the issue by the union for and the supervisory bodies of places of public service. Representatives of the Békéscsaba Gypsy Self-Government also stated that they may initiate a lawsuit.

(Roma Press Centre)

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