a) Hungary / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 21-10-1994 / e) 46/1994 / f) / g) Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 103/1994 / h) .
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
Sources - Techniques of review - Concept of constitutionality dependent on a specified interpretation.
General Principles - Equality.
Institutions - Armed forces, police forces and secret services - Armed forces.
Fundamental Rights - Equality - Scope of application - Public burdens.
Fundamental Rights - Equality - Criteria of distinction - Gender.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Freedom of conscience.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - National service.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Freedom of association.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Conscience, motivation / Weapon, possession, exclusion from civilian service / Priest, exemption from military service / Artist, exemption, military service.
The text of the military oath, and its reference to the sacrifice of one's life, does not violate the constitutional right to life because the Constitution allows for objections to military service.
Provisions restricting the right of association of soldiers are constitutional to the extent that they only prohibit persons during the time of their military service joining those associations whose aims are contrary to the tasks of the armed forces.
It is not unconstitutional discrimination that women are not subjects of universal conscription.
Conscience as the reason for the objection to military service is a sufficiently wide concept because it is connected to an important interior conviction, irrespective of whether this springs from religious, moral, or other considerations.
The obligation to fill out an objector notification form is not unconstitutional because it is necessary to verify one's conscientious conviction.
It is an unconstitutional limitation on the right of conscience to exclude those who possess firearms from the possibility of civilian service.
The Hungarian Constitution is among the few constitutions that provide for alternative civilian service. Under Article 70/H of the Constitution "The defence of the country shall be the duty of every citizen of the Republic of Hungary. Under the general obligation of defence service the citizens shall perform armed or unarmed military service or, in conformity with conditions provided by an Act of Parliament, civilian service." The details of military and civilian service are regulated by the National Defence Act (Act no. CX of 1993) that replaced an older law dating from 1976. In this case, several provisions of the law and of a government decree executing the law were challenged before the Constitutional Court.
The Court found unconstitutional only a single provision of the government decree which excluded those persons who possessed firearms during the year before they declared their objection from the possibility of alternative service. The Court considered this provision to be an unnecessary limitation on the right of conscience. Conscientious objectors can possess firearms for hunting or sports purposes.
The Court relied on the Constitution to give an extended interpretation to a provision of the Law. The provision in question exempted from military service priests and certain performing artists (musicians and dancers). The Court found the exemption of priests justified because it serves the constitutional purpose of the exercise of freedom of religion. In the case of artists the Court emphasised the necessity of the continuous exercise of certain performing arts. The Act listed those three specific art schools, the graduates of which were entitled to exemption from military service. The Court interpreted this provision widely by extending the exemption to graduates of all equivalent (e.g. foreign) art schools.
Some petitioners also challenged the constitutionality of those provisions of the Criminal Code that punish certain objections to military service. Certain denominations do not accept even alternative civilian service. In their case the criminal regulation undoubtedly restricts their freedom of religion and conscience, but this restriction on a fundamental right is justified by a constitutional value, namely the defence of the country, which is the constitutional duty of every citizen.