Constitutional Court: Parlt Procedure On Church Status Unconstitutional

  • 21 Dec 2017 8:00 AM
Constitutional Court: Parlt Procedure On Church Status Unconstitutional
The parliamentary procedure on granting a religious community “registered church” status is unconstitutional as it fails to determine legal consequences if the decision is not made within the 60-day deadline, the Constitutional Court ruled.

The decision comes after a complaint from an organisation registered as a church in Hungary since 1990.

The complaint said that, although the claimant has not officially lost its status as a church and judicial documents refer to it as such, its status is not recognised in other procedures, such as the funding of their home for the elderly.

This amounts to discrimination against a religious group, the complaint said.

Prior to the 2012 Church Act, religious communities had been registered as churches in Hungary and received state funding. Under the new law, which aimed to address problems relating to the exploitation of state funds by certain churches, only a number of recognised churches continued to receive funding.

Following a decision of Hungary’s Constitutional Court which found certain provisions of the new church act to be unconstitutional, new legislation was adopted in 2013.

Under this, religious communities such as the applicants could again refer to themselves as churches but the law required them to apply to parliament to be registered as registered churches if they wished to regain access state funding.

The fundamental rights of a religious group do not thus encompass the “registered church” status, the court ruled. However, parliament has to lay down guarantees for legal remedy should it miss the lawful deadline

in deciding on a group’s status to avoid infringing on their rights to fair procedure, it ruled. Parliament is to amend legislation to eliminate the breach of constitution by March 31, the court ruled.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.

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