The Government will amend the Penal Code in order to prohibit the sporting of totalitarian symbols also beyond 1 May.

A person who wears or displays totalitarian symbols in a way that is capable of upsetting public rest and order will be punishable in the future. Instances of violation of the human dignity of or the right to commemorate the victims of totalitarian regimes would also qualify as the disturbance of public rest and order. Communiqué.

Instead of a general ban, the amendment prohibits the popularisation, use before the wider public or public displaying of totalitarian symbols (swastika, arrow-cross, hammer and sickle and five-pointed red star) in a way that is capable of disturbing public rest and order. The amendment, which contains clearer and more precise wording and promotes standardised law application practices, concerns both the Penal Code currently in force and the new Penal Code that will enter into force on 1 July.

Effective as of 30 April, the Constitutional Court annulled the provision of the Penal Code prohibiting the use of totalitarian symbols and declared it unconstitutional as, the Constitutional Court argues that it defined the range of punishable practices in an overly broad manner which may lead to the arbitrary construction of the law and the unjustified restriction of the freedom of expression. The main argument in favour of the annulment was that the rule under criminal law is not sufficiently precise, specific and clear-cut and this does not allow the development of a standard judicial practice.

The Hungarian approach to the issue of the use of totalitarian symbols also clashed with the international practice, which the European Court of Human Rights found objectionable. The decision now adopted pays due regard to Hungary’s specific historical situation and simultaneously enables the Government to also observe the legal practice of the European Court of Human Rights.

(MTI, Ministry of Public Administration and Justice)