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Hungary 2023

A controversial new law was adopted aiming to further restrict the rights of teachers and silence their dissent. Bookshops were fined for breaching the homophobic and transphobic “Propaganda Law”. Asylum seekers were refused access to protection in the country. Parliament adopted judicial reforms in a bid to access suspended EU funds, although systemic deficiencies undermining the free speech of judges remained. The government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fell short of the EU targets.


To regain access to EU funds suspended by the European Commission and the European Council, Hungary pledged to adopt and implement anti-corruption measures, amend legislation concerning the rights of LGBTI people, asylum seekers and refugees, restore academic freedom, and introduce reform to strengthen the independence of the judiciary. In response the EU institutions decided to restore Hungary’s access to parts of the cohesion fund.

The government prolonged the state of emergency, using Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine as a pretext to circumvent parliamentary decision-making and uphold its anti-immigration regime.

Hungary came last in the European Implementation Network’s ranking of EU countries based on their implementation of leading judgments issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), with 76% of judgments from the last 10 years not implemented.

Freedom of assembly and association

Police used tear gas multiple times in April and May to disperse students protesting against controversial legislation to further centralize the public education system and silence teachers voicing dissent. During a demonstration in May, police arrested and detained five protesters, four of them minors, for allegedly attacking police officers. Parliament adopted legislation dubbed the “Vengeance Act” in July, further restricting teachers’ autonomy and silencing their criticism towards educational policies.

Teachers fired for participating in acts of civil disobedience in 2022 took the state to court, seeking to overturn their dismissals and secure compensation.

Police banned seven protests expressing solidarity with people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories under the pretext of protecting public safety, without meeting the legal threshold for the ban.

Despite severe criticism from the Council of Europe and NGOs, new legislation was adopted in December aiming to further silence critical voices and deter organizations from public participation in Hungary. The vaguely worded law created a new authority and tasked it with investigating organizations and individuals considered a “threat to national sovereignty”.


LGBTI people

Fifteen EU member states and the European Parliament intervened through the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to support LGBTI rights in an ongoing infringement procedure against the so-called “Propaganda Law” adopted in 2021. This law banned the “promotion and portrayal of homosexuality and gender change” in linear media services. The court case was pending at the end of 2023.

Authorities began to implement sanctions under the propaganda law by issuing fines to bookshops that displayed books depicting homosexuality in their youth literature sections and failed to sell them in closed packaging. One company appealed against the decision; the case was pending at the end of 2023.

In June, the ECtHR found that Hungary had violated the rights of transgender people by failing to provide an adequate procedure for legal gender recognition. The judgment related to a case that preceded the banning of legal gender recognition in 2020.

The Media Council refused to allow a TV commercial for the annual Budapest Pride festival and march on the grounds that it would “propagate homosexuality”. The organizers appealed against the decision; the case was pending at the end of 2023.

In July, a rainbow-coloured bench inaugurated to celebrate Budapest Pride was vandalized several times by football club supporters and far-right activists. The perpetrators graffitied “Stop LGBTQ” at the scene, referring to the government’s ongoing homophobic and transphobic campaign. A police investigation regarding the hate incident was pending at the end of 2023.


In its periodic review of Hungary, the CEDAW Committee raised serious concerns about reproductive rights in the country, highlighting the limited access to safe and legal abortions and the government’s reinforcement of gender stereotypes.

Hungary still had not ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), which it signed in 2014.

The 2023 Gender Equality Index, published by the European Institute of Gender Equality, ranked Hungary 26th out of the 27 EU member states based on its overall performance, and placed it last in the power domain.


Far-right groups organized a series of protests in Roma neighbourhoods to intimidate Roma people. Police did not put in place adequate measures to protect Roma people from harassment and threats. Racism and discrimination against Roma people in employment, housing and education persisted.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

The Council of Europe adopted an interim resolution exhorting Hungary to terminate and provide remedy for collective expulsions to Serbia. Summary returns of refugees and migrants continued throughout 2023, reaching 100,108 cases by the end of December.

In June, the CJEU ruled that Hungary had violated EU rules by restricting asylum seekers’ access to protection in its territory or at its borders. The government continued to uphold a system introduced in 2020 restricting people’s ability to claim asylum in Hungary; this was possible only if a so-called “letter of intention” was first filed and accepted at the Hungarian embassies in Belgrade or Kyiv. By the end of 2023, access to submit asylum applications under this system had been granted in only 16 cases. The limitations did not apply to Ukrainian refugees, 40,605 of whom had been granted temporary protection since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The ECtHR delivered six judgments ruling that Hungary had violated the rights of refugees and migrants by arbitrarily detaining them and using excessive force against people at the border.

Right to a fair trial

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe issued an interim resolution in March condemning Hungary for still not implementing the Baka judgment of 2016 to guarantee freedom of expression for judges and counter the chilling effect among them of restricting this freedom.

In May, Hungary adopted significant judicial reforms in order to access suspended EU funds. The reforms strengthened judicial independence and limited the formerly excessive powers of the National Office for the Judiciary, the administrative body of the justice system. However, an assessment by NGOs found that EU requirements had still not been fully addressed.

Government officials and pro-government media continued to discredit judges on the National Judicial Council for voicing criticism of government policies that weakened the independence of the judiciary.

Right to a healthy environment

The Climate Change Performance Index found that Hungary had committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, falling short of the EU target of 55% or more.

People in several cities protested at their local governments against the opening of factories by China-based battery manufacturers without thorough environmental impact studies having been conducted.

Following a government decree in September, companies violating environmental requirements through industrial pollution were exempted from sanctions as long as they signed a contract pledging to refrain from further breaches.