- February 2013 : Partial annulment of the controversial law on religions
In late February 2013, the Constitutional Court pronounced the partial annulment of the 2011 CCVI Law (see Current Debates - Autumn 2011) on freedom of conscience and the legal status of churches. The Court declared unconstitutional two aspects of this law : the lack of clear legal criteria for obtaining recognition of the status of “recognised religion” through Parliament and the impossibility of appealing the decision.
This organic law establishes the list of churches, communities and religious movements officially recognised by the Hungarian State. The list mentions 32 recognised religious communities, in contrast to more than 300 previously (see France Diplomatie). The criteria used to establish this list are problematic insofar as only the national churches and minorities are recognised. Muslim, Buddhist and even Hindu communities are excluded.
While it marks a major break with the legislation of the Communist regime by restoring that in force until 1947, its adoption is controversial not only in Hungary (see the article by Gabor Sonkoly, Historian at the University of Budapest), but also in Europe. The Council of Europe wanted to know about the motivations of the Hungarian State : in March 2012, the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) issued an opinion on this law. Conscious to respect democracy and freedom of conscience and religion, the Committee on Honouring Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) has also made a request to initiate a monitoring procedure for Hungary in respect of its Basic Law and several laws, including CCVI.
For more information, see the opinion of the Council of Europe’s Monitoring Committee.