President Laszlo Solyom on Wednesday signed a recent law on penalising Holocaust denial, a senior official of the president’s office, told MTI.
Solyom signed the law since it does not contravene the Constitution, said Ferenc Kumin.
At the same time, Solyom said that adopting the law amid the campaign for the April general election had been inappropriate.
Parliament approved on February 22 an amendment to the Penal Code under which denial of the Holocaust in public is punishable by up to three years imprisonment.
The Alliance of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) said in a statement that the approval of the law could be an important weapon in the fight against anti-Semitism and created the opportunity for the authorities to take action against groups posing a threat to a peaceful society.
The Hungarian anti-Fascist association (MEASZ) also welcomed Solyom’s decision to sign the amendment to the penal code, while at the same time arguing that further amendments would be needed before human dignity is properly protected.
Main opposition party Fidesz said that it intended to draw up legislation after the general election which penalises sympathy expressed for the Nazi- and Communist-era crimes on equal terms, said MP Robert Repassy.
The Socialist-initiated amendment was adopted with 197 votes for, one against and 142 abstentions.
At the time, politicians supporting the legislation criticised deputies of the main opposition Fidesz for abstaining.
Leaders of the Jewish community Peter Feldmajer and Gusztav Zoltai as well as several Holocaust survivors attended the parliamentary session in which the law was passed, the last before the general election.
The bill was submitted by Attila Mesterhazy, prime minister candidate of the Socialist Party, on January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day. He said at the time that legislative action was required because anti-Semitism and extremist, neo-Nazi ideologies were on the rise in Hungary.