Strasbourg, November 8 (MTI) – The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has approved non-material compensation for Socialist MEP Tibor Szanyi for the violation of his freedom-of-expression rights by Hungarian parliament on Tuesday.
In late March 2013, Hungary’s parliament fined then lawmaker Szanyi of the Socialist Party 131,410 forints (EUR 430), a sum corresponding to one-third of his gross monthly salary, for showing his middle finger to the Jobbik parliamentary group after a speech he had delivered one week prior.
The Socialist MEP claims that he made the gesture in response to racist comments made by Jobbik MPs during his speech.
Szanyi approached the ECtHR on this issue saying that the penalty violated his rights to freedom of expression, and also because Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover had rejected his plan to speak up over the issue in the next few days, arguing that Szanyi’s statements would harm parliament’s authority and would have given reason enough for a disciplinary procedure.
The ECtHR ruled that if Szanyi has paid his fine, he is to receive 450 euros plus 2,650 euros as compensation for his expenses.
Szanyi’s penalty was the harshest possible retribution against MPs using “outstandingly offensive language” according to Hungarian parliamentary law. Szanyi’s fine has created a precedent since the introduction of the law on Jan. 1, 2013.
The related section of Hungarian parliamentary regulations penalises MPs for using “outstandingly offensive language” directed at parliament or any of its groups or members including ethnic, racial or religious communities. The fine in question may not exceed one-third of the given MP’s monthly salary.