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Are there legal definitions of racist incident and racist violence?

Key Area:
Anti-racist Crime Legislation & Implementation
11/03/2012 - 19:40
Short Answer

yes, but not specific..

Qualitative Info

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

  • genocide;[2]
  • apartheid;[3]
  • 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.


Certain articles of the Criminal Code, such as those covering murder (‘homicide’)[11] or the causing of grievous bodily harm (‘battery’)[12] 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.


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.  

[1]  Act No. IV of 1978 on the Criminal Code, (20. 02. 2012.)

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

[12] Hungary/Act IV (1978), 170.



Groups affected/interested Roma & Travelers, Ethnic minorities, Majority
Type (R/D) Extremism - organised Racist Violence, Anti-semitism
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Anti-racism
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