Christians Associated for Democracy has translated the newest draft of Hungary’s law on the “legal status of churches” into English. The European Court of Human Rights had found an earlier version of the law to violate the right of religious freedom. The amended law attempts to redress those violations by introducing a three-tiered classification system for religious communities: “religious associations,” “registered churches,” and “certified churches.” Additionally, the law allows the state to enter into “cooperative agreements” with “certified churches” on a discretionary basis to subsidy their “public interest activities.”
The new draft of the law, made public in early September 2015, will need to be scrutinized carefully by legal scholars and human rights groups. According to Dr. David Baer, professor at Texas Lutheran University and a member of the executive board of Christians Associated for Democracy, the draft “marks a significant improvement over earlier versions of the church law in that it provides explicit rights and protections for religious communities classified in the lower tiers. These improvements notwithstanding, however, the proposed amendments fail to address a number of crucial violations of the right religious freedom identified by the European Court of Human Rights, and is likely to be the occasion of further legal action before the Court.”
The proposed changes to Hungary’s church law will be a topic for discussion at this year’s OSCE Human Dimension Implementation meeting in Warsaw, at a side event hosted by FOREF (Forum for Religious Freedom Europe) on September 30, from 1:00-3:00 p.m..
The English text of the draft of the law, as well as excerpts from the rationale for the amendments provided by the Hungarian Ministry of Justice, can be downloaded via the links below.
The Hungarian text of the draft law, and the Hungarian text of the rationale can be downloaded via the links below.