Hungarian Constitutional Court rules on anti-discrimination legislation
10 April 2001
On December 4, 2000, the Hungarian Constitutional Court handed down a ruling rejecting the submission that the failure of Parliament to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill was unconstitutional. The Court, furthermore, rejected submissions that the failure to adopt such legislation was a violation of Hungary’s obligations under international law. The basis for their judgement was that it is not necessary to prohibit discrimination in a comprehensive piece of legislation as the current legislation already provides sufficient protection, albeit in a piecemeal fashion. However, the Court noted that its decision to find against the submission did not mean that there was no room for further legislation in the area of discrimination. The Court gave no reasoning for its finding on the second issue of the compliance of current legislation with Hungary’s international obligations. The adoption in 2000 of the EU Race Equality Directive and Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms has moved the European debate about anti-discrimination legislation forward considerably. As an accession country, Hungary must adopt the provisions of the Race Equality Directive into domestic law before it can accede to the European Union. Most experts consider Hungary’s legislation pertaining to discrimination inadequate at present. For more information on Protocol 12 and the Race Equality Directive, see the “Advocacy” section of this issue of Roma Rights.