Hungarian law exposes ‘abusive’ politicians to fines, removal

(JTA) — Amid a public outcry over anti-Semitic statements by a Hungarian lawmaker, the country’s parliament has passed an amendment to punish politicians that use “abusive” speech.

The amendment, which was passed Dec. 17, exposes lawmakers and others appearing in parliament to fines and physical removal from the premises if they use “abusive language,” the Hungarian news agency Magyar Távirati Iroda (MTI) reported.

Last month, Jobbik’s foreign policy cabinet head, Marton Gyongyosi, said that the recent Gaza escalation “makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary.”

His statement drew international condemnations and a harsh reaction by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. 

The statement moved Janos Fonagy, Hungary’s state secretary of the Development Ministry, to deliver a speech in parliament earlier this month in which he said: "My mother and father were Jewish, and so am I, whether you like it or not." He cautioned Jobbik politicians that "history will judge” their “choice” to incite against him and other Jews.

Repeated anti-Semitic statements by Jobbik politicians like Gyongyosi and Krisztina Morvai, who urged "liberal-Bolshevik Zionists to find a place to hide," have prompted the Anti-Defamation League to classify the Jobbik ultra-nationalist party as “openly anti-Semitic.”

The legislation, MTI reported, authorizes speakers of the house and their deputies to order the immediate removal of lawmakers using “blatantly abusive language” and fine them within five days. It defines abusive language as expressions that "undermine Parliament’s prestige, insult an individual or a group, especially national, ethnic, racial and religious communities, or cause a major uproar in the assembly hall," according to MTI.

The amendment was approved with 262 votes for, 47 against and 48 abstentions.

Jobbik is the country’s third-strongest party, with 47 lawmakers in the 386-seat Parliament. The amendment on abusive language was initiated by Fidesz, the ruling party headed by Orban.

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