Founding member of the Hungarian Atheist Association, Gáspár Békés, has been fighting his dismissal from his job at Budapest City Hall since February 2021. Békés was fired for his secular journalism and activism.
In March 2023, following a retrial of the case in the first instance, a court ruled in favor of Békés, ordering his reinstatement to his post as well as compensation for loss of earnings. In the course of determining its ruling the court reviewed Békés’ publications, reaching the conclusion that “the plaintiff’s opinion in his writings was criticism free of partisan politics, expressed objectively, without being offensive or insulting,” conclusively rebutting the City Hall’s grounds for termination. This ruling is now pending appeal by the Budapest City Hall.
In December 2022, three UN Special Rapporteurs wrote to the Hungarian authorities expressing their concern that Békés’ termination appeared to violate his human rights, and that if this were the case, the government’s intervention to ensure that the violations end.
In their letter, the UN Special Rapporteurs write:
“It is a matter of serious concern that the decision to dismiss Mr. Bekès by the Budapest City Hall, as well as the declarations made by high-level officials calling for his dismissal, may legitimise negative social attitudes towards members of minority religions and beliefs, and encourage and lead to verbal attacks, expressions of hatred and acts of violence against them by individuals holding different religious or political views.”
Humanists International believes that Gáspár Békés is being targeted solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression and thought, as a result of his activism to spread humanist values and critical thinking, and calls for the Hungarian authorities to investigate all threats against Békés and ensure his safety. In addition, Humanists International calls on Budapest City Hall to drop its appeal against the reinstatement of Gáspár Békés to his post in the Climate & Environment Department.
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