Hungary passes hate speech law

The Hungarian parliament passed a law against hate speech.

According to the new law passed Monday, the use of hate speech is punishable by up to two years in prison. The law, however, may not survive a legal challenges.

“Offending someone publicly who belongs to ethnic, religious, or national groups in Hungary is regarded as a punishable act,” said a statement about the new law.

The proposal, which was prepared and pushed through by the ruling Socialst Party, is designed to punish not only hate speech and expressions, but also use of the Nazi salute. The latter element is apparently directed at the newly organized Hungarian racist and fascist group, the Hungarian Guards.

Due to concerns over free-speech rights, earlier drafts of the law had been refused three times by the Hungarian Constitutional Court, and the new law passed in Hungary’ parliament by a relatively slim margin.

Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom has said there is no need for a new law against hate speech since the current legal code is able to handle hate-related crimes.

 

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