Village council effectively bars refugees from renting premises in Esztergályhorváti

September 15, 2017

Village council adopts ordinance to bar refugees from spending vacation in the settlement
Photo: esztergalyhorvati.hu

The council of the southwestern Hungarian village Esztergályhorváti has adopted an ordinance obliging accommodation providers to check refugees’ vaccination records before renting premises to them, reports hvg.hu.

Based on the ordinance, accommodation providers cannot offer their real estate to refugees who lack any of the vaccinations obligatory in Hungary. The controversial ordinance came after an Austrian physicist who owns a property in the village had offered the refugee advocacy NGO Migration Aid to accommodate refugees during a vacation organized by the NGO.

The government’s fear-mongering and xenophobic propaganda had taken its toll on the small Zala county village. According to Magyar Nemzet, although the residents had never met a single migrant, they are terrified by the prospect of a few refugees spending a couple of days in the village. According to the news site, the villagers once saw a foreigner there and were terrified by the experience.

On Thursday the human-rights advocacy NGO Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) published a statement in which they called the regulation “obviously unlawful” for three reasons:

  • According to the asylum law, only a law or a government ordinance can stipulate additional obligations for those who have received asylum from the Hungarian state.
  • According to the constitution, only a law can stipulate regulations on fundamental rights and obligations.
  • The council ordinance is discriminatory. It distinguishes Hungarian citizens from non-Hungarian citizens without a plausible explanation. Moreover, it even differentiates among foreigners as it does not pertain to tourists and protected persons.

According to HHC press officer Zsolt Zádori, this latter aspect indicates that the legislators were not familiar with the various kinds of asylum statuses stipulated by international law. Zádori believes it is likely the Constitutional Court will annul the local ordinances, as it did in the case of ordinances adopted by the village of Ásotthalom last year banning Islam and homosexuality within its borders.