The Roma community in Hungary is by far the largest minority ethnic community in the country. As is the case for Greece, Roma in Hungary suffer profound social and economic marginalization. Rates of unemployment and poverty are far higher than for the majority population. Roma in Hungary are also a prime target of ethnically motivated attacks. Hungary's Jewish population – the largest in east central Europe, based primarily in the capital Budapest – also faces increasing levels of hostility, particularly with the rise of the far right.

But while violence and discrimination against both communities has been a long-standing problem in Hungary, in the context of a deepening economic crisis, rising unemployment and growing nationalism, Hungary's Roma have been scapegoated and demonized in right-wing discourse. Anti-Roma rhetoric has been used by the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party in campaigning for national and European parliamentary elections. The Hungarian government shifted to the right in 2010 with the election of the centre-right Fidesz party. For the first time, Jobbik won a significant share of seats in the Hungarian parliament; its anti-Roma and anti-Semitic rhetoric brought the party further success in the April 2014 elections, with its share of the national vote rising to over 20 per cent.

Despite this climate of racist hostility in Hungary, it is difficult to ascertain the true scale of hate crime incidents in the country as many are likely to go unreported. In the most recent ODIHR annual hate crime report for the OSCE region, for example, published in late 2013, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted only 36 incidents of hate crime for 2012, and 16 prosecutions. Nor was any official data on racist attacks specifically against Roma or Sinti communities in Hungary reported to ODIHR. By contrast, between them the UN refugee agency UNHCR and NGOs – the Athena Institute and the European Roma Rights Centre – reported to ODIHR numerous cases in 2012 of threats with weapons against Roma families, physical assaults and one case of arson. Furthermore, as reflected in a number of recent incidents of bias-motivated violence and intimidation, cases that are reported to the police are often not taken seriously (see case study). Anti-Semitism is also commonplace and is a visible element of right-wing ideology in Hungary. This was reflected in a number of violent attacks during the year against Jewish Hungarians, including the head of the Raoul Wallenberg Association, Ferenc Orosz, who was assaulted at a football match after he asked nearby supporters to refrain from chanting fascist slogans in support of Mussolini. In May, shortly after the attack, the World Jewish Congress convened in Budapest. The event, which normally takes place in Jerusalem, was staged this year in Hungary as an expression of solidarity for the country's Jewish community. At the meeting, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán underlined Hungary's commitment to tackling anti-Semitism in the country.

In addition to acts of violence, extremist sentiment towards minorities in Hungary appears to be increasingly present in politics and the media. An Early Warning Despatch issued by the Athena Institute early in 2013 warned that extremist rhetoric provides an 'enabling environment' for violence. Following the New Year's Eve stabbings of two Hungarian youths, allegedly by Roma perpetrators, Zsolt Bayer, a conservative commentator and founder member of the ruling Fidesz party, wrote in a column in the Magyar Hirlap daily newspaper that many Roma are 'unfit for coexistence'. While the paper initially supported the columnist's right to freedom of speech, the Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics publicly condemned the column – reportedly the only member of the governing alliance to do so at the time. The Hungarian National Media and Infocommunications Authority subsequently fined the newspaper HUF 250,000 for publishing hate speech. The Athena Institute noted that an openly racist, xenophobic, anti-Roma, anti-Semitic and homophobic website continues to function apparently because, as the server is located in the United States, it cannot be closed down by the Hungarian authorities.

A new Hungarian Criminal Code came into force on 1 July 2013 extending provisions against hate-motivated assaults on the grounds of nationality, ethnicity or religion to include sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Amnesty International, however, had earlier claimed that it was a 'missed opportunity' for greater action on hate crimes. Amnesty noted that problems with implementation of the law would continue due to a lack of appropriate police expertise and procedures in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. Furthermore, as hate crimes are not explicitly included in murder cases, judges can themselves decide on whether to include them in their rulings.

In August, a court in Budapest issued life sentences to three men and a 13-year sentence to a fourth over a series of targeted killings of Roma the group had conducted during 2008 and 2009. Amnesty again highlighted that, despite the sentencing, Roma are still extremely vulnerable to violence and discrimination. Other issues included the lack of effective data collection on hate crime incidents against minorities, the inadequate police response to investigating reported incidents and little or no supportive care for victims. Roma communities also continue to be targeted by vigilante groups.

Violence against women is especially acute in Hungary, assisted until recently by the lack of legislation classifying domestic violence as an offence. In July 2013, a law was passed specifically criminalizing domestic violence for the first time. However, HRW and other observers have highlighted the ongoing protection gaps for women in Hungary, particularly Roma women, who are especially at risk not only as a result of poverty and the patriarchal values of their community, but also due to their exclusion and mistrust of police and the judiciary.

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