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Is there legislation against racist and hate crime?

Key Area:
Anti-racist Crime Legislation & Implementation
11/03/2012 - 19:17
Short Answer


Qualitative Info

Currently, the Criminal Code includes relevant provisions on:



violence against member(s) of a community;

incitement against community;

ban of using totalitarian symbols;

ban of denying genocide or crimes against humanity committed by totalitarian regimes (the latter measure was adopted in the context of a years-long debate on hate speech legislation).


Hungary has not yet ratified the Additional Protocol to the CoE Convention on Cybercrime.

There is no comprehensive strategy developed (or is not under development) on the transposition of the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA into the Hungarian domestic law.


The Hungarian Criminal Code[1] criminalises six types of behaviour that may fall under the racially/hate motivated category. These are:



violence against member(s) of a community;[4]

incitement against community;[5]

ban of using totalitarian symbols;[6]

ban of denying, doubting, or trivialising genocide or crimes against humanity committed by totalitarian regimes.[7]


The article of the Criminal Code on violence against member(s) of a community[8] was amended in 2008.[9] As a result, this article of the Criminal Code, governing previously ‘violence against a member of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group’, was extended to cover any group of the population. The name of the offence was also modified to ‘violence against member(s) of a community’. As a result of the amendment, individuals engaged in the preparation of violence against a member of a community shall also be held criminally liable.[10] Based on the amendments, the new provision is the following: (1) Any person who assaults another person for being part, whether in fact or under presumption, of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, or certain groups of the population, or compels her/him by applying coercion or duress to do, not to do, or to endure something, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years. (2) The punishment shall be imprisonment between two to eight years if the act or crime is committed: a) by force of arms; b) with a deadly weapon; c) causing a considerable injury of interest; d) with the torment of the injured party; e) as part of a group; or, f) as part of a criminal conspiracy. (3) Any person who engages in preparing violence against a member of a community is guilty of a misdemeanour punishable by imprisonment for up to two years.

The article of the Criminal Code on incitement against community[11] provides with protection against non-violent conduct motivated by racism, xenophobia or other bias motive (e.g. homophobia[12]), according to which anyone publicly inciting hatred against the Hungarian nation or any national, ethnic, racial or other groups of the population shall face punishment for a felony offence with imprisonment for up to three years.

The article of the Criminal Code on ban of denying, doubting, or trivialising genocide or crimes against humanity committed by totalitarian regimes[13] originally dealt only with holocaust denial or trivialising (it came into force in February 2010). A few months later, as a result of legislative initiatives of the newly elected Hungarian government, this sub-paragraph was amended (entered into force in July 2010). The new version of this paragraph is extended to the crimes of both ‘national socialist’ and ‘communist regimes’, and the term ‘holocaust’ is no longer there in the text. The current form of this legislation covers a broader range of crimes than the Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA does.

Since February 2010, which punishes participating in the leadership or in some cases the mere activities of banned associations (e.g. in extremist associations: consider the amendment of the Act on Petty Offences[14]) with up to three years of imprisonment.[15]

Certain articles of the Criminal Code, such as those covering murder (‘homicide’)[16] or the causing of grievous bodily harm (‘battery’)[17] expressly grant judges the discretion to take into account ‘base motivations’ when sentencing offenders, therefore judges in such cases may thus take racist or other bias motivation into account as an aggravating circumstance.


Concerns and debates regarding legislation in the field of racist and other hate crimes


While judges may take racist or other bias motivation into account as a ‘base motivation’, however, racist or other bias motivation is not expressly listed in the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code. No general provision exists in Hungarian law under which racist or other bias motivation constitutes an express aggravating circumstance in ordinary criminal offences. Concerning this situation, the ECRI recommends[18] that the Hungarian authorities draft a ‘specific provision that would make racist motivations aggravating circumstances for ordinary offences’, as ‘without such a systematic approach, the racial motivations of offenders are not assessed on a consistent basis.’


[1]    Act No. IV of 1978 on the Criminal Code,

[2]     Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 155.

[3]     Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 157.

[4]     Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 174/B.

[5]     Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 269.

[6]     Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 269/B (since the amendment of the Criminal Code in 1993).

[7]     Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 269/C.

[8]     Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 174/B.

[9]     On 10 November 2008, the Hungarian National Assembly adopted Hungary/Act No. LXXIX (2008), on Certain Amendments Necessary to Protect Public Order and the Operation of the Judiciary, which modified Article 174/B of the Criminal Code, effective 1 February 2009.

[10]    Hungary/Act No. LXXIX (2008), Article 2.

[11]    Act No. IV (1978), Article 269.

[12]    See the interpretation of the law regarding homophobic hate crimes on the website of the (former) Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, Jogi hátter – Magyar jogszabályok, available at: (Date of access: 22.08.2010).

[13]    Hungary/Act No. IV. (1978), Article 269/C.

[14]    Hungary/Act No. XXXV. (2010) on the Amendment of the Criminal Code (Hungary/Act No. IV. (1978)), amending Article 212/A of the Criminal Code.

[15]    Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 166.

[16]    Hungary/Act IV (1978), 170.

[17]    ECRI (2009) Report on Hungary, fourth monitoring cycle (adopted on 20 June 2008, published on 24 February 2009), p. 14, available at: (22.08.2010).

[18]    Hungary/Act IV (1978), Article 269/C.


Groups affected/interested Migrants, Ethnic minorities, Religious minorities
Type (R/D) Anti-semitism, Islamophobia, Anti-roma/zinghanophobia, Homophobia
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Anti-racism
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