Hungarian parliament criminalizes homelessness and helping refugees 

In a recently ratified amendment to the constitution, the Hungarian government has jeopardized freedom of assembly and criminalized homelessness. On the same day the parliament also passed the "Stop Soros" bill, making the work of NGOs impossible.

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Hungarian parliament criminalizes homelessness and helping
refugees  - NewsMavens
Viktor Orban, WikiCommons

Why this story matters:

The fourth Fidesz government led by populist right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban did not waste its time when amending the constitution for the seventh time. With almost every amendment Fidesz has crossed new red lines. The latest is possibly the most concerning.

  • Freedom of assembly could be curbed by banning demonstrations organized near politicians’ homes.
  • All government institutions will be obliged to “protect Christian culture” -- although the text does not mention whom it is protecting it from.
  • The amendment also bans living in a public space, which is practically a ban on homelessness.

The aim of the amendment is, according to Fidesz, to “protect national sovereignty and ban the settlement of foreign populations on the territory of Hungary.”

In line with that, the parliament also passed the Stop Soros bill which makes the work of NGOs practically impossible. Individuals and groups that help refugees could risk up to 90 days in prison. NGOs could also be subject to a special immigration tax which could significantly reduce their budgets.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) will vote on Monday on a draft report that criticizes Hungary's current rule of law. Concerned Hungarians are awaiting the response of the EU. Meanwhile, the Hungarian streets have not filled with demonstrators and people have passively accepted the new status quo.

Details from the story:

  • The constitution was amended seven times in six years.
  • The far-right Jobbik was the only opposition party that supported the amendment of the constitution. However, Fidesz has a two-thirds majority in parliament which means it can pass any legislation it wants.
  • The proposed immigration tax could be 25%. Aron Demeter, spokesperson of Amnesty International Hungary told Nepszava that if they will be subject to the special tax, they will go to court.
  • According to the Stop Soros bill, those who give financial assistance to refugees could risk a one-year prison sentence.
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