European Court of Human Rights Says Hungary Violated Religious Rights

Says That ‘Church Act’ Breaches Freedom of Religion

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The European Court of Human Rights ruled against legislation in Hungary that stripped some religious communities of their church status, staying that the law violated their rights.

“Religious communities’ loss of full church status breached their rights to freedom of assembly and association and their rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” a statement from the European Court read.

The Church Act, which took effect in January 2012, gave powers to the Hungarian parliament to decide in a two-thirds majority vote whether a religious group should be given church status, and thus, be eligible for state subsidy.

The court’s ruling also stated that the Hungarian government failed to prove that there was no other “less drastic solutions to problems relating to abuse of state subsidies by certain churches.”

“Furthermore, it was inconsistent with the state’s duty of neutrality in religious matters that religious groups had to apply to Parliament to obtain reregistration as churches and that they were treated differently from incorporated churches with regard to material benefits without any objective grounds,” the ruling added.

The Hungarian government has issued no statement on the court’s ruling. (J.A.E.)

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