Hungarian court overturns village's ban on Islamic symbols and 'LGBT propaganda'

Caroline Mortimer

A Hungarian court has overturned a ban forbidding Muslims and gay people from in a remote village in the south of the country.

The mayor of Ásotthalom, ​László Toroczkai, said he wanted to attract more inhabitants to the village of around 4,000 on the border with Serbia, he did not want to attract Muslims or LGBT people in order to “preserve traditions”.

Under the proposed rules the building of mosques, the call to prayer and the wearing of Islamic headscarves would be banned.

But the Constitutional Court in Budapest did not agree, ruling that it violated human rights law as it aimed to “limit directly the freedom of conscience and religion, as well as freedom of speech”.

It said it specifically restricted the exercising of the Muslim faith and therefore violated the Hungarian constitution in a summary on its website.

Mr Toroczkai is a member of the far-right Jobbik party which advocates a hard line on immigration.

Last year the ruling Fidesz party, which is also on the hard right, staged a referendum to impose quotas on the number refugees from Syria being resettled in Hungary under the terms of an EU deal with Turkey to help those living in camps after fleeing the civil war.

The referendum failed due to low turnout but Fidesz then attempted to push a constitutional amendment banning refugee resettlement altogether through the Hungarian parliament.

Mr Toroczkai told BBC that he believed the flow of refugees could lead to the “disappearance of Europe”.

He said: “It’s very important for the village to preserve is traditions. Europe is small.

“It can’t take in billions of people from Africa and South Asia, where there’s a population boom.”

He said there were numerous instances of Muslim communities in Europe which had failed to integrate.

Mr Toroczkai denied the laws would discriminate against LGBT people, saying they were just banning the “propagation of gay marriage” and public displays of affection by gay people to “defend” the traditions of the village.

He said: “We’re defending our own traditions. Ásotthalom has a by-law that bans homosexual propaganda. We adopted it a few weeks ago.”

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