The exercise of additional minority rights–in other words, the use of institutions of positive discrimination–conceptually presupposes some kind of definition of eligibility criteria and thus a certain form of identifying individuals. If the law permits citizens to affirm an identity without any legal strings attached, even as it extends certain additional minority rights or applies measures of positive discrimination, then it is up to the individual, and no one else, to decide, completely freely, whether to avail himself or herself of these benefits. In the absence of identification, these additional rights would become available to the majority rather than the minority to whom they are truly intended to accrue. This would set the stage for abuse and ultimately deprive the measures in question of their positive discriminatory essence. It is equally important to bear in mind, however, that the identification of minority status and associated records place certain restrictions on fundamental constitutional rights, particularly those to human dignity, self-determination, the discretionary affirmation of identity, and the protection of personal data. It follows from this that no manner of identification and records can be acceptable unless it respects the fundamental constitutional rights of individuals and satisfies the formal and substantive criteria of constitutionality with regard to restricting a fundamental right. The essays collected here examine the options available under Hungarian law of identifying minority status and keeping such information on file. One of the articles presents the results of a research project that demonstrates the existence of negative discrimination in police practices related to identity checks. (Download the electronic version of the book.)
László Majtényi’s essay in Élet és Irodalom on 2 Februar 2018.