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Hungary to propose further constitutional amendments

State secretary at the Justice Ministry of Hungary Robert Repassy announced on Thursday that the government is proposing new constitutional amendments to reduce criticism over its 2012 constitutional amendments [BBC backgrounder]. Repassy stated that the amendments would contain [AP report] new rules on the recognition of religious groups, as well as modifications to the bans on political advertisements on commercial television and radio stations. The new laws will allow political campaign advertisements on commercial TV and radio, but broadcasters will not be allowed to charge for them. Political parties will also be given equal air time. Parliament will still retain the right to designate recognized churches, though all religious communities will be allowed to function as churches. Recognized churches may be granted tax breaks and other advantages. Before the 2012 amendments, all churches in Hungary received these benefits. Repassy stated that the amendments were proposed as the result of pressure [WSJ report] due to the harsh criticism Hungary has received.

The controversial 2012 amendments include restrictions on the homeless [JURIST report], increased control of the media and a strict, narrow definition of family. The new laws were controversial even when they were passed [JURIST report], and have been subject to ongoing scrutiny. In June UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged [JURIST report] the Hungarian government to revoke the 2012 constitutional amendments, stating that they undermine the country's constitutional justice and threaten the independence of the country's judiciary. In May Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported that the country's new constitution undermines basic human rights [JURIST report].

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