Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal. Under the law, the definition of rape is based on the use of force or coercion and not on the lack of consent. The definition of rape also includes the exploitation of a person who is incapable of self-defense or unable to express his/her will. Penalties for rape range from two years in prison to 15 years in aggravated cases.
The criminal code includes “violence within partnership” (domestic violence) as a separate category of offense. By law, certain cases of regularly committed physical assault, defamation, violation of personal freedom, and coercion are more severely punished if the offender and the victim live together or have lived together or if a child was born as a result of their relationship. The offense relates not only to relatives and dependents but also to former spouses, relatives who live in the same domicile, common-law partners, those under guardianship or care, guardians, and caretakers. The law penalizes humiliation, causing severe deprivation to–or grave violation of–the dignity of a relative or a dependent with up to two years’ imprisonment. Certain forms of economic violence are also punishable. Regulations extend prison sentences for assault (light bodily harm) and defamation to three years if committed in the above context. Grievous bodily harm, violation of personal freedom, or coercion may be punishable by one to five years in prison. If committed in a domestic violence context, malicious assault and assault committed against those incapable of self-defense or against an elderly or person with disabilities are also punishable by one to five years’ imprisonment.
Police and courts may impose restraining orders. By law, police called to a scene of domestic violence may issue an emergency restraining order valid for three days in lieu of immediately filing charges, while courts may issue up to 60-day “preventive restraining orders” in civil cases. The restraining order imposed by the criminal court lasts up to 60 days without the option to extend or until the issuance of a legally binding ruling. Women’s rights NGOs continued to criticize the law and its application for failing to provide appropriate protection for victims and for not placing sufficient emphasis on the accountability of perpetrators. NGOs also noted that courts and child protection authorities generally failed to recognize and take into account domestic violence in custody and visitation cases and forced visitation remained a widespread practice in the case of children with abusive parents.
On June 21, the Kecskemet Regional Court issued a legally binding ruling in the case of Jozsef Balogh, mayor of Fulophaza and former Fidesz member of parliament, for causing severe bodily harm to his common law partner in 2013. The case sparked public protests by women’s groups in 2013 when the mayor blamed the family’s dog for the attack. In reaction, Fidesz dismissed Balogh from the party. Balogh resigned his seat in parliament in 2013. The court sentenced Balogh to 10 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years on probation. Balogh subsequently resigned from his position as mayor.
The Ministry of Human Capacities continued to operate a 24-hour toll-free hotline for victims of domestic violence and trafficking in persons to provide information and if necessary to coordinate the immediate placement of victims in shelters. In 2015 the hotline registered 2,067 calls in relation to domestic violence, which resulted in institutional emplacement in 256 cases.
The ministry operated shelters with 98 beds at 15 locations for survivors of domestic violence, providing immediate accommodation and complex care for abused individuals and families for up to 90 days. The government also sponsored a secret shelter house with 29 beds for severely abused women whose lives were in danger, allowing a maximum stay of six months. In 2015 a total of 996 persons received assistance in the shelters. During the year the government increased funding for shelters by 50 percent and for the secret shelter house by 100 percent.
The ministry operated six halfway houses, providing long-term housing opportunities (maximum five years) and professional reintegration assistance for families graduated from shelters and assistance to prevent secondary victimization. According to women’s rights NGOs, services for survivors of violence against women were not transparent, and either operated with limited capacity or did not meet international standards of good practice.
NGOs complained that, despite some positive legislative measures in recent years, a comprehensive prevention, protection, and prosecution approach was missing from the state’s response to domestic violence as well as to other forms of violence against women. NGOs criticized the improper application of existing laws and regulations, the lack of systematic training and protocols for professionals, and the limited availability of proper victim support services.
Sexual Harassment: The constitution and the law establish the right to a secure workplace and make harassment a criminal offense. Penalties for harassment range from one year in prison to three years in aggravated cases. NGOs contended that the law did not clearly define sexual harassment, leaving victims with a lack of legal awareness or incentive to file a complaint. According to NGOs, sexual harassment remained widespread.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
Only women and men above the age of 40 or who already had three children could opt for sterilization for nonmedical reasons. Women’s rights NGOs criticized the lack of state subsidy for any contraceptive method, calling it an obstacle to family planning.
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. The Hungarian Women Lobby, the NANE Women’s Rights Association, and the Patent Association asserted that Romani women could suffer from multiple discrimination on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, and class, experiencing barriers to equal access to education, health care, housing, employment, and justice.
Birth Registration: An individual acquires citizenship from a parent who is a citizen. Births were registered immediately.
Education: Although the law provides for free and compulsory education between the ages of three and 16 and prohibits school segregation, NGOs reported that segregation of Romani schoolchildren continued to increase. Schools with a majority of Romani students employed simplified teaching curricula, lacked well-trained minority language teachers, were generally less well equipped, and were in significantly worse physical condition, than those with non-Romani majorities. NGOs suggested that the segregated environment and the substandard educational quality resulted in significantly lower levels of education among the Romani population. According to the Roma Education Fund, 20 percent of Romani children left the school system with a secondary school diploma (compared with 80 percent of non-Romani children) and only 2 percent obtained university diplomas in 2015.
On March 31, the deputy commissioner for fundamental rights reported to the UN Human Rights Council that, although segregation in education is prohibited by law, “in practice the segregation of Romani students was widespread.” The deputy commissioner stated that the segregation was the “result of direct or indirect discriminatory practices against Romani students, while Roma minority education and religious education may also lead to segregation or malpractice.”
On May 26, the European Commission began an infringement procedure against the country. The formal letter of notice to the government requested it to ensure Romani children enjoy access to quality education on the same terms as all other children and urging it to bring the national laws on equal treatment, as well as on education and the practical implementation of its educational policies, into line with EU directives.
Child Abuse: According to experts, approximately 10 percent of children under the age of 18 were beaten or assaulted. Experts generally noted significant regional disparities, with higher rates of child abuse occurring in eastern and northern sections of the country.
Efforts to combat child abuse included a “child protection signaling system” to detect and ward off factors endangering children, law enforcement and judicial measures, restraining orders, shelters for mothers and their children, and removing children from homes deemed unsafe. As of January 1, the government introduced new measures to enhance the effectiveness of the child protection signaling system, including the appointment of social workers in each town and in each district responsible for the coordination of the signaling system. Despite the changes, the public remained generally critical of the operation of the child protection system during the year. In the case of the death of an 18-month old girl in Gyongyos, on September 28, the ombudsman released a report that established serious and repeated omissions by the pediatrician, the child welfare center, and the guardianship authority leading to a failure to prevent her fatal starvation.
On December 13, parliament amended the law with a provision stating that if a parent does not “cooperate” with the doctors, district nurses, teachers, or family supporters in the signaling system, it automatically constitutes gross endangerment, even without any other signs of real negligence or endangerment.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18. The Social and Guardianship Office may authorize marriages of persons between the ages of 16 and 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Buying sexual services from a child younger than 18 is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. Forcing a child into prostitution is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. The law prohibits child pornography. The making or distribution of pornographic images of a child is punishable by up to eight years in prison. Obtaining or having possession of pornographic images of a child is punishable by up to three years. Producing, offering, supplying, or making available pornographic images of a child is punishable by one to five years imprisonment. The sale of children is prohibited by law. The statute of limitations does not apply to sexual crimes against children. The government generally enforced the law.
The minimum age for consensual sex is 12, provided the older partner is 18 or younger. Persons older than 18 who engage in sexual relations with a minor between the ages of 12 and 14 may be punished by one to five years’ imprisonment. Consensual sex between a person older than 18 and a minor between the ages of 14 and 18 is not punishable. By law, statutory rape is a felony punishable by two to eight years’ imprisonment if the victim is under the age of 14 or five to 10 years’ imprisonment if the victim is under the age of 12.
On November 18, the ombudsman called public attention to the extremely high discrepancy between the estimated 300,000 children exposed to some form of sexual abuse and the approximately 1,000 cases in which official procedures are initiated annually.
NGOs reported that prostitution of girls under the age of 18 remained a problem. NGOs strongly criticized the frequent practice of charging juveniles (children between the age of 14 and 18) for petty offenses and blaming the children for “prostituting themselves.” Through the end of September, police initiated proceedings against 105 juveniles in connection with prostitution (10 percent of all prostitution related proceedings) as well as seven minors younger than 14. Authorities sanctioned 48 juveniles for prostitution petty offenses, including seven juveniles sentenced to imprisonment, eight to public work, 13 given fines, and 18 given warnings.
Institutionalized Children: According to 2011 research conducted by the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), 66 percent of children living in state-run children’s homes were of Romani origin.
NGOs continued to criticize the increasing practice by authorities of removing children from their families on the grounds of poverty or the lack of sufficient family income. The HCLU and the grassroots NGO The City Is for All claimed that such removals violated the law, which declares that children must not be removed from their families solely on the basis of economic circumstances.
The ombudsman expressed concerns that relevant professional experience was not required for persons working in childcare institutions offering special welfare services and that there was no mandatory training for such employees. During the year the ombudsman released reports on two different branches of the Karolyi Istvan Special Children’s Home in Fot. A report released on February 2 on the Home for Children with Special Needs, which treats children with cognitive disabilities, established there had been violations of the prohibition of inhuman treatment in connection with the institute’s failure to prevent bullying. The failure resulted from the improper set up of children’s groups and the discriminatory attitudes of some caretakers. A second report release on June 13 also identified cases of inhuman treatment based on a lack of individualized assistance, the occasional practice by caretakers of separating some children from their peers, and excessive restrictions on contacts between siblings.
NGOs also criticized the lack of special assistance for child victims of human trafficking. Child victims of trafficking were placed in ordinary childcare institutions, which generally lacked trained staff and specific protocols for handling traumatized and abused children. Children could leave childcare institutions freely, which resulted in their frequent disappearance and revictimization. On March 2, the ombudsman released a report on the Zita Special Children’s Home of the Somogy County Child Protection Directorate, which identified cases of inhuman treatment based on the failure of caretakers to report victims of child prostitution at the institute.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
According to estimates from the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish population numbered between 35,000 and 120,000 persons.
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary (MAZSIHISZ) registered 19 incidents of anti-Semitism during the first six months of the year, one of which involved physical assault, seven involved threats, six involved hate speech, and two involved vandalism. The registered physical assault was the killing of an Israeli tourist on April 22 in Tiszakecske. Police arrested a 21-year-old man from Kocser and a 19-year-old man from Lakitelek as suspects, and the case was pending at year’s end. According to MAZSIHISZ, there were 46 anti-Semitic incidents during 2015.
The Brussels Institute, founded by TEV, continued to monitor anti-Semitism and registered 35 acts of anti-Semitism through the end of October, but no cases of physical abuse, compared to 52 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015.
On April 19, TEV published its 2015 annual report on domestic anti-Semitism, based on a survey conducted by the Median Opinion and Market Research Institute. The report concluded that approximately one-third of Hungarians harbored anti-Semitic views. The study accounted for both cognitive anti-Semitism (receptivity to stereotypes, misconceptions, and conspiracy theories) and affective anti-Semitism (emotional rejection of the Jews). The percent of extreme anti-Semites grew from 21 percent in 2014 to 23 percent in 2015, while the percentage of persons with moderately anti-Semitic views increased from 10 percent in 2014 to 12 percent in 2015.
Law enforcement and judicial agencies continued to prosecute anti-Semitic incidents. During the first nine months of the year, police registered 542 cases of vandalism in cemeteries and religious buildings (including Jewish property). On June 29, two windows of the synagogue at Gyongyos were broken with rocks thrown from the street during daytime. No injuries were reported, but property damage amounted to 500,000 forints ($1,790). Police opened an investigation for vandalism the same day, which remained pending.
On February 24, the Community of the Politically Convicted (CPC) organized the unveiling of a statue of wartime member of parliament Gyorgy Donath (1939-1944), an enthusiastic supporter of anti-Jewish legislation who was executed by the communist government in 1947 after a show trial on trumped-up charges. Several Jewish organizations and other NGOs protested the statue, which was located only a few blocks from the Holocaust Memorial Museum and Documentation Center. The district mayor’s office posted an invitation to the unveiling ceremony on its official website, and governing party officials were scheduled to speak at the event. Protesters prevented the unveiling ceremony, and the CPC removed the statue two days later in response to the public outcry.
On August 18, the minister of the Prime Minister’s office, Janos Lazar, issued the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit, the state’s second-highest award, to Zsolt Bayer, a controversial Magyar Hirlap columnist, EchoTV anchor, and founding member of Fidesz, partly in recognition of his “exemplary work as a journalist.” On April 4, the Israeli ambassador to the country sent a letter of complaint to the chief editor of Magyar Hirlap, claiming that a series of Bayer’s articles “openly advocate anti-Semitic sentiments and incite against the Jewish People and the State of Israel.” The ambassador asserted that Bayer’s articles “not only relativize the Shoa (Holocaust), but also make general and false accusations against the Hungarian Jews, as if they are to be blamed for the Hungarian tragedies, which took place through the 20th century.” On May 17, the Media Council fined Magyar Hirlap and its website in connection with a Bayer article from November 2015 that was found to promote hatred and exclusion.
Intense domestic and international criticism followed the government’s decision to decorate Bayer. More than 100 former state award recipients returned their decorations in protest, many citing Bayer’s numerous openly anti-Semitic, anti-Roma, and otherwise racist publications. On August 25, Minister Lazar rejected the idea of withdrawing Bayer’s award and reiterated that certain aspects of his work covering the fate of persons who were imprisoned and perished in Soviet gulags merited state recognition (see also section 2.a., Freedom of Speech).
Numerous extreme ethnic nationalist websites continued to publish anti-Semitic articles (see section 2.a., Internet Freedom).
According to NGOs, members of the extreme ethnic nationalist Jobbik Party continued to limit their previous practice of making public anti-Semitic statements. On March 30, the Debrecen Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Tibor Agoston, Jobbik representative on the Debrecen city council, for violating the law prohibiting public denial of the crimes committed by national socialist or communist regimes. The court imposed a fine of 750,000 forints ($2,690) on Agoston for referring to the Holocaust as a “Holoscam” at a gathering in 2014. Agoston issued a public apology in August 2015.
On September 9, the Living Memorial, a grassroots monument to commemorate the 600,000 victims of the Holocaust in the country, was vandalized in Budapest’s Liberty Square. The perpetrators tore photographs and destroyed or stole items of remembrance left at the memorial. The destroyed or stolen items had only symbolic but not material value, according to the Living Memorial group, which filed a police report on the same day; police later closed the investigation, citing the lack of evidence of a crime.
The governmental project to establish a new Holocaust museum, the House of Fates, remained pending during the year. The project manager, widely criticized for failing to consult with Jewish communities and Holocaust experts on the content of the exhibit, officially remained in position. Senior government officials repeatedly issued assurances that the museum would be opened only if Jewish community representatives reached consensus agreement on the content of museum exhibits.
The president, the prime minister, cabinet members, and opposition politicians spoke of the culpability of the state and its officials for the Holocaust and attended events commemorating the Holocaust. On January 7, Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited the Shoes on the Danube Promenade Holocaust memorial monument and placed a candle.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and the law prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. NGOs continued to report that the government failed to enforce antidiscrimination laws effectively.
In harmony with the law, both the central government and municipalities continued to renovate public buildings to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. There were no data available on the percentage of government buildings that complied with the law, but NGOs asserted that many public buildings remained inaccessible.
NGOs claimed that authorities had not honored their obligation to provide public schooling to children with significant and multiple disabilities because public elementary schools are not obligated to enroll children with disabilities. The National Federation of Disabled Persons’ Associations criticized the lack of accessible dormitory space for persons with disabilities at higher educational institutions.
The government continued to implement its 30-year (2011-2041) strategy to reduce the number of persons with disabilities living in institutions with capacities greater than 200 persons. In 2015 approximately 600 of 23,000 such persons moved to group homes or smaller institutions with up to 30 beds.
As of September 10, the ombudsman had released five reports on homes for elderly and mentally and physically disabled persons. On May 20, the ombudsman released a report on the Aranykor Elderly Home in Fegyvernek summarizing government site inspections at the institution, which was maintained by a nonprofit company. The report identified several instances of inhuman and degrading treatment of residents, including placing physically disabled residents on the second floor without access to an elevator; failure to employ a staff psychologist; a lack of mandatory standard procedures; holding cognitively disabled residents in permanently locked rooms; and maintaining insufficient records on the use of physical restraints. Although the institution’s management corrected some key deficiencies since the inspections, the ombudsman identified further shortcomings and requested government bodies to continue monitoring the institution’s operation. The other reports also identified instances of inhuman and degrading treatment at other institutions, including improper physical and hygienic conditions; lack of accessibility; overcrowding; the practice of female caretakers bathing male inhabitants; mishandling of residents’ sensitive personal data; lack of privacy; staff prejudice; lack of individualized and meaningful activities for residents ; and lack of a complaint mechanism.
The constitution provides that a court may deprive persons with disabilities who are under guardianship of the right to vote due to limited mental capacity. The international NGO Mental Disability Advocacy Center continued to criticize the “mental ability” provision as an “unsophisticated disguise for disability-based discrimination” because it could apply to persons with intellectual disabilities and to persons with psychosocial disabilities. In a report released in 2014, the commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe noted the high number of persons with disabilities who were placed under guardianship. According to the National Office for the Judiciary, 57,861 persons were under guardianship as of October 17, compared with 64,328 persons under guardianship at the end of 2015.
NGOs noted that polling places were generally not accessible to persons with disabilities. If a person was originally registered at an inaccessible polling place, he or she needed to request to be reregistered at an accessible polling station. The law also provides persons with physical disabilities the option of requesting a mobile ballot box. Persons with visual impairments have the option of requesting voting templates in Braille.
The lead agency for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities is the Ministry of Human Capacities.
Roma remained the largest ethnic minority. According to the 2011 census, approximately 315,000 persons (3 percent of the population) identified themselves as Roma. Unofficial estimates varied widely and suggested the actual figure was between 500,000 and 800,000 persons. Human rights NGOs continued to report that Roma suffered social exclusion and discrimination in almost all fields of life, particularly in employment, education, housing, prisons, and access to public places, such as restaurants and bars.
On January 12, the Curia convicted three individuals charged with the racially motivated murders of six Roma in 2008 and 2009. The Curia upheld a lower court’s sentence of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole in the case of premeditated murder and other charges. In May 2015 the Budapest Metropolitan Court of Appeals sentenced the fourth defendant, who had cooperated with police during the investigation, to 13 years’ imprisonment as an accomplice to the murders.
NGOs reported continued failures and omissions on the part of the police and prosecution in investigating hate crimes committed against minority group members (including Roma). On April 12, the ECHR established that the government failed to adequately investigate allegations of racially motivated abuse in the case of the Romani applicant who suffered verbal insults and threats from participants in the 2011 demonstrations organized by far-right groups in Gyongyospata. The ERRC, as third-party intervenor, asserted before the court that vulnerable victims alleging racially motivated violence were unlikely to be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they had been subjected to discrimination, especially when they were also victims of a failure on the part of the domestic authorities to carry out an effective investigation. The government appealed the ECHR ruling, but the Grand Chamber of the ECHR rejected the appeal on September 12 and the judgment became final.
According to the HCLU and other NGOs, in some localities (especially in Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen County) police continued to impose fines or other sanctions on Romani residents for minor offenses that were usually ignored when committed by non-Roma, such as minor traffic infractions involving bicycles or illegal collection of firewood. The HCLU continued to report that police responses to offenses, especially in cases of petty offenses committed in the poorest regions of the country, were ethnically disproportional and often based on discriminatory ethnic profiling.
On October 24, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office released a report that stated only 39 percent of the working-age Romani population was employed in 2015 (compared to 69 percent of the non-Romani population). The government increased public employment and educational opportunities for registered unemployed persons. As of September, 327,445 persons–20 percent of whom were of Romani origin–had participated in the public employment program for at least one day. Projects typically involved cleaning public spaces or work on agricultural or water projects. Persons employed on such projects could work 12 months, which could be extended by another six months maximum. From 2012 to September 2016, approximately 195,190 public workers (including 45,559 Roma) were enrolled in an education component of the program aimed at enhancing their employability. Government statistics showed that 12.2 percent of those enrolled found employment in the primary labor market within six months of graduation from the public works program. As of September, 8,699 persons had been excluded from public employment programs for three months on the grounds that their children did not regularly attend school, they did not keep their immediate environment in order, they did not accept offered or seasonal work, or their previous labor contract was terminated with immediate effect by either the employer or the employee.
On October 24, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office released a report that stated 80 percent of the Romani population between the ages of 15 and 64 had only finished elementary school (compared to 20 percent of the non-Romani population). On May 27, a UN antidiscrimination working group stated that Romani children were largely segregated in inferior schools and continued to be placed disproportionately in schools for pupils with learning disabilities. During the 2015-16 school year, the government continued to operate Sure Start children centers providing early intervention programs for disadvantaged, mostly Romani children below kindergarten age and parenting advice for their parents. During the year, 112 such centers reached 2,507 children and their parents. From 2015 the government provided scholarships using EU funds for socially disadvantaged students, including 9,000 elementary and secondary school children and 2,285 vocational school students who declared themselves to be Roma. It also provided scholarships for socially disadvantaged higher education students, including 128 Roma. There were 171 Tanoda afterschool centers around the country providing tutoring and extracurricular activities for disadvantaged, mostly Romani children. The Tanoda network assisted approximately 3,500 disadvantaged students. There were 11 Romani special colleges across the country sponsored by the government using EU funds, seven of which were operated by Christian denominations and four managed by universities. The special colleges provided housing and tutoring for approximately 296 Romani students enrolled in higher educational institutions. The public education system continued to provide inadequate instruction for members of minorities in their own languages, and Romani language schoolbooks and qualified teachers were in short supply (see section 6, Children).
Inadequate housing continued to be a problem for Roma, whose overall living conditions remained significantly worse than those of the general population. According to Romani interest groups, municipalities continued to use a variety of techniques to prevent Roma from living in more desirable urban neighborhoods. These groups have called for the expansion of public housing.
In 2014 the local council of Miskolc adopted an urban planning decree aimed at effectively evicting approximately 3,000 residents of the city’s “low comfort” neighborhoods by 2018. In April 2015 the Curia annulled the local decree on the grounds that it discriminated against persons with social needs. In July 2015 the ETA also established that the Miskolc municipality discriminated against the residents of a segregated area because of their social status, financial situation, and Romani origin. The municipality requested judicial review of the ETA decision. On January 25, the Budapest Metropolitan Public Administration and Labor Court upheld the ETA ruling and ordered the municipality to prepare an action plan to provide housing for the affected residents. On May 2, the ETA received the action plan from the Miskolc municipality outlining the April 21 city council decree on creating a social housing agency in cooperation with the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, which would decide on placing homeless families in municipally owned properties. On June 1, a group of NGOs, joined by the Miskolc Roma self-government, issued a statement criticizing the plan for its small scale (allocating only 30 apartments while 100 families were in need) and the lack of compensation for the affected families, who had already moved from their neighborhoods due to the municipality’s actions.
According to a June 2015 ombudsman report, authorities and other local bodies (i.e., public utility providers) in Miskolc jointly carried out frequent raid-like official inspection and control activities without explicit legal authorization. The raids often involved large numbers of local government police, government inspectors, and other officials descending on homes in segregated living areas populated mostly by Roma. The report asserted that the practice was incompatible with the rule of law and that individuals subjected to the inspections were unable to interpret properly the legal basis of the numerous activities that authorities conducted simultaneously, infringing on the right to fair procedures and the right to legal remedy. The ombudsman concluded that the raids resulted in direct discrimination based on social origin and financial status, and indirect discrimination based on belonging to a minority. In July 2015 the mayor of Miskolc rejected the ombudsman’s report and asserted that the official control activities would continue, as the local population supported them and they were deemed necessary to control crime. In July and November 2015, the ombudsman again called on the mayor to stop the control activities. In September 2015, upon the inquiry of the ombudsman, the minister of the Prime Minister’s Office stated that coordinated control activities like the one conducted in Miskolc were in accordance with the law. As of September, official control activities continued in Miskolc.
On March 21, the HCLU and the Office for National and Ethnic Minority Rights Protection filed a lawsuit against the Miskolc municipality, its Law Enforcement Department, and the Mayor’s Office for the violation of personality rights in connection with discriminatory anti-Roma actions and rhetoric. The case remained pending before the Court of Miskolc.
On September 1, ODIHR released a report, The Housing Rights of Roma in Miskolc, Hungary, based on a June 2015 visit to Budapest and Miskolc led by ODIHR director Michael Link. In the report, ODHIR expressed “grave concerns about the allegations of discrimination in the provision of adequate housing for Roma residents of Miskolc,…the joint control activities conducted in predominantly Roma settlements with social housing, and the effects it has on the community.”
To apply for EU and government funds for urban rehabilitation and public education projects, municipal authorities must attach a local equal opportunity plan outlining planned actions to eradicate segregation in housing and education. According to the Ministry of Human Capacities, during the year some 280,000 Roma lived in approximately 1,384 settlements where at least half the population were Roma. Segregated settlements lacked basic infrastructure and were often located on the outskirts of cities. During the year, the government continued a 45 billion forints ($161 million) settlement rehabilitation program to improve the living conditions of residents of segregated settlements. The program involved 198 settlements with more than 40,000 residents. The government continued implementing the National Social Inclusion Strategy 2011-20 and its 2015-2017 action plan.
The law establishes cultural autonomy for nationalities (replacing the term “minorities”) and recognizes the right to foster and enrich historic traditions, language, culture, and educational rights as well as to establish and operate institutions and maintain international contacts. The law stipulates that any municipality with 30 residents belonging to a registered ethnic group may form a “nationality self-government” to organize activities and manage cultural, educational, and linguistic affairs. The president of each nationality self-government body has the right to attend and speak at local council sessions. The law provides for the 13 national minorities, including Roma, to vote for a national minority list in parliamentary elections; the Romani minority had a spokesperson in parliament (see section 3).
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. In addition, the law prohibits certain forms of hate speech and prescribes increased punishment for violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community, specifically referencing these groups as being targeted for their “gender identity” or “sexual orientation.”
On May 27, a UN antidiscrimination working group released a statement following an official visit to the country in which it expressed concern over the “incitement to hatred against sexual and gender minorities by politicians and leading government officials.”
On July 2, an estimated 15,000 persons joined the annual Budapest Gay Pride Parade. Police secured the parade and sealed off the route of the march. In contrast to previous years, there was no counterdemonstration organized in protest against the parade. On November 7, the Pest Central District Court sentenced one person to three years and another to two years in prison for assaulting five persons who had taken part in the 2013 Budapest Gay Pride Parade. Three other persons received suspended prison terms.
On November 23, on the proposal of Mayor Laszlo Toroczkai (vice-president of the extreme nationalist Jobbik party), the local council of Asotthalom adopted a decree banning the promulgation of same-sex marriage and the definition of the family as anything other than marriage or parent-child relationship. The decree encompassed any activity in public space, such as demonstrations, performances, posters, flyers, and loudspeaker advertisements. On December 10, approximately 30 LGBTI activists staged a small demonstration in front of the mayor’s office in the village. The demonstration was not interrupted. On December 12, the HCLU urged the ombudsman to initiate annulment of the decree at the Constitutional Court. On December 14, the Csongrad County Government Office declared the Asotthalom council decree unlawful. On December 16, the ombudsman filed a petition with the Constitutional Court seeking annulment of the decree.