Christians Associated for Democracy has translated the newest draft of Hungary’s law on the “legal status of churches” into English. The European Court of Human Rights found an earlier version of the law to violate the right of religious freedom. The amended law attempts to redress those violations by introducing a three-tiered classification system for religious communities: “religious associations,” “registered churches,” and “certified churches.” Additionally, the law allows the state to enter into “cooperative agreements” with “certified churches” on a discretionary basis to subsidy their “public interest activities.” The translated text of the bill can be downloaded from the Christians Associated for Democracy webpage.
Will this new law do the trick? Will it address the violations of the European Convention identified by the European Court of Human Rights? In my view, the proposed law marks a significant improvement over earlier versions of the church law in that it provides explicit rights and protections for religious communities classified in the lower tiers. These improvements notwithstanding, however, the proposed amendments fail to address a number of crucial violations of the right religious freedom identified by the European Court of Human Rights, and is likely to be the occasion of further legal action before the Court. I’ll be writing a more detailed analysis of the draft in the near future.