Executive summary

AuthorKádár, András
1. Introduction
Hungary is a country of around 10 million people. Fifteen years after its political transition
into democratic pluralism, Hungary became a member of the EU. The creation of
democratic laws and institutions has been accompanied by increasing awareness of the
principle of equal treatment, but the i ssue of discrimination was brough t to light by the
debates generated by the process leading to the adoption of a comprehensive anti-
discrimination law in late 2003 Act CXXV of 2003 on Equal Treatment and the Promotion
of Equal Opportunities (ETA).1 The law established the Equal Treatment Authority
(hereinafter also referred to as the Authority) a body responsible for combating
discrimination in all sectors and with rega rd to all grounds. The Authority’s activities and
strategic litigation by NGOs have further raised awareness of the issue and the situation of
the groups most exposed to discrimination.
The group most vulnerable to discrimination is the Roma population. The only ‘visible’
ethnic minority in Hungary constitutes 69 % of the country’s population. Despite positive
legislative changes and significant amounts spent on integration programmes, Roma still
face deeply rooted discrimination in education, employment, healthcare, housing and
access to go ods and services. They are greatly over -represented in the poorest lay ers of
society. At present, the most heated debate concerns the segregation of Roma pupils in
education, which is still widespread in Hungary and manifests itself in three common
patterns: ‘auxiliary schools’ for children with intellectual disabilit ies predominantly
attended by Roma students; segregated ‘Gypsy schools’ (often reflecting segregation in
housing); and segregated classes within ‘mixed’ schools, usually offering a lower quality of
The systemic nature of the problem is illustrated by a court decision in which a foundation
sued the ministry responsible for educational affairs for failing to take effective action
against the segregation of Roma pupils in 28 schools for over a decade. The first instance
court concluded2 that the ministry’s failure to take action had amounted to discrimination,
and prescribed several steps to be taken with the aim of eliminating segregation. These
included banning 13 segregated schools throughout the country from admitting new first -
graders; assigning the concer ned first-graders to other schools; preparing and publishing
desegregation plans; amending the methodology of inspecting educational institutions’
compliance with the principle of non-discrimination; and paying a publ ic interest fine of
approximately EUR 145 060 (HUF 50 million)3 to be spent on the civil monitoring of
desegregation programmes over the next five years. While the second instance court4
significantly modified the fir st instan ce judgment in relation to the sanctions imposed
leaving only the obligation to prepare desegregation plans and to pay a public interest fine
intact it shared the assessment that the ministry had failed to take effective action to
end segregation in several schools, although it had been aware of the widespread existence
of segregation in these educational institutions.
The inactivity of the authorities contributes to the fact that, despite the nuanced legal
framework, the extent of segregation is on the rise, and according to the available data,
the steep increase in the number and proportion of denominational schools within the
1 Act CXXV of 2003 on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities, (2003. évi CXXV. törvény
az egyenl bánásmódról és az esélyegyenlség elmozdításáról), 28 December 2003,
2 Metropolitan Court, Decision No. 40.P.23.675/2015/84, 18 April 2018,
3 Throughout the report, each amount indicated in HUF is also indicated in EUR, on the basis of the exchange
rate applicable at the time of writing.
4 Metropolitan Appeals Court, Judgment No. 2.Pf.21.145/2018/6/I, 14 February 2019.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT