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Introduction

The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2014 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well.

Contact: 
András  Kádár
E-mail: andras.kadar@helsinki.hu

Country context

Hungary is a country of 10 million. Fifteen years after the political transition from a Socialist one-party system into democratic pluralism, Hungary became a member of the European Union. The creation of democratic laws and institutions has been paralleled by an increasing awareness of the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination, but the issue of discrimination came to the limelight in connection with the debates generated by the process leading to the adoption of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law in late 2003 (Equal Treatment Act – ETA).

Main principles and definitions

The ETA contains the definition for both direct and indirect discrimination. The definitions are greatly but not fully based on the concepts used by the Directives. Harassment, instruction to discriminate and victimisation are defined and outlawed in the Hungarian system.

Enforcing the law

When there is a case of discrimination, victims may choose from among a number of options to seek remedy, depending partly on the field where discrimination has occurred. They can turn to (i) the civil court; (ii) the labour court (if discrimination occurs in connection with employment); (iii) the Equal Treatment Authority; (iv) the administrative bodies authorized to sanction discrimination in their specific fields (e.g. the Consumer Protection Inspectorate); (v) to the Governmental Office (in order to initiate a petty offence procedure in education). 

Main Legislation

Hungary has ratified almost all the major international instruments combating discrimination, with the exception of Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which the country has signed but not yet ratified.

The corner stone of the regulation is the general anti-discrimination clause of the Fundamental Law of Hungary adopted in 2011. The general ban on discrimination set forth by this constitutional provision is detailed by the ETA (amended on numerous occasions since 2003). 

Material scope

The ETA approaches the issue of scope from the personal, instead of the material aspect. It prohibits any discrimination in the public sector, so in this respect its scope is in fact broader than that of the equality directives.

Equality bodies

The specialised body for the promotion of equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (Equal Treatment Authority) started its operation on 1 February 2005. The Authority is a public administrative body with the overall responsibility to ensure compliance with the principle of equal treatment. It is a budgetary organ working under the supervision of the Minister of Administration and Justice (hereafter: Minister). It however may not be instructed in relation to the exercise of its duties defined in the ETA.

Go to the European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities This initiative is financed by the EC Programme Progress. But the views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.