Hungary: European Commission will investigate new law on religion

Earlier this year, Members of the LGBT Intergroup asked the European Commission if Hungary’s new law on religion was compatible with EU non-discrimination law. The Commission answered that it was unsure, and that it will find out whether the law abides by European standards.

Commissioner Viviane RedingThe Hungarian Parliament recently adopted an Act on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Legal Status of Churches, Religious Denominations and Religious Communities.

According to this new law, since churches institutions (including schools) are ‘ideologically committed’, they are allowed to determine who they employ ‘[as] necessary to preserve their specific identity’.

Members of the European Parliament have found this wording vague, as it could imply that some schools are able to discriminate employees on the ground of their sexual orientation. This is forbidden under EU law, which only allows religious organisations to discriminate employees on grounds of religions or belief (for instance, a Jewish school is not legally obliged to protect the employment of atheists).

In its answer, the European Commission recalled that EU law did not allow for wide exceptions in anti-discrimination law. Viviane Reding concluded that the Commission would ‘contact the Hungarian authorities for further information and to examine whether Hungarian law is in conformity with Directive 2000/78/EC‘.

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