Hungary and registration of religious groups: Magyar Mennonita Egyház again

The background

In Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and Ors v Hungary [2014] ECHR 552 the applicants were a range of religious groups and individual members of those groups that had previously operated as communities registered by the competent court in conformity with Act no. IV of 1990 (“the Church Act 1990”): the Mennonites, various Congregationalist and Evangelical Christian groups, the Alliance of Hungarian Reformed Jewish Communities, the European Union for Progressive Judaism, the Buddhists and some others. Prior to the adoption of a new Church Act, which entered into force in January 2012, they had been registered as churches and received State funding. Under the new law, which aimed to address problems relating to the exploitation of State funds by certain churches, only a number of recognised churches continued to receive funding. All other religious communities, including the applicants, lost their status as churches but were free to continue their religious activities as associations.

Following a decision of the Constitutional Court, which held certain provisions of the new Church Act to be unconstitutional – in particular the fact that only incorporated churches were entitled to one per cent of the personal income tax which could be earmarked by believers as donations – new legislation was adopted in 2013, under which religious communities such as the applicants could again refer to themselves as churches. However, the law continued to apply in so far as it required the communities to apply to Parliament to be registered as incorporated churches if they wished to regain access to the monetary and fiscal advantages to which they had previously been entitled.

The earlier proceedings

The applicants complained of a violation of Article 11 (assembly and association) taken with Article 9 (thought, conscience and religion). In its principal judgment of 8 April 2014, the Court found a violation of Article 11 read in the light of Article 9 but held that that finding constituted sufficient just satisfaction in respect of the claims of non-pecuniary damage of five of the individual applicants. The Court further held that the remaining questions of the application of Article 41 (just satisfaction) were not ready for decision and reserved them for examination at a later date.

The decision on just satisfaction

In Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and Ors v Hungary (Just Satisfaction) [2016] ECHR 593 the Court held that the finding of a violation constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage sustained by Mr Szűcs (Út és Erény Közössége Egyház, no. 41553/12). It further held that the question of the application of Article 41 in respect of Magyarországi Evangéliumi Testvérközösség (no. 54977/12) was not ready for decision. Lastly, the Court held that Hungary was to pay the remaining applicants €540,000 in total, plus costs.

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Hungary and registration of religious groups: Magyar Mennonita Egyház again" in Law & Religion UK, 29 June 2016, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2016/06/29/hungary-and-registration-of-religious-groups-magyar-mennonita-egyhaz-again/

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Hungary and registration of religious groups: Magyar Mennonita Egyház again

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  2. Pingback: Church registration in Hungary: Magyarországi Evangéliumi Testvérközösség | Law & Religion UK

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