human rights and constitutional law (with special regard to: freedom of religion, prohibition of torture, inhuman, degrading treatment, discrimination, segregation, integration), EU law, international / EU refugee law
My present project focuses on contemporary challenges to secularism by examining various areas of church-state relations in Europe. In the interpretation of the ECtHR, freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the cornerstones of democratic societies, while one of its main inherent requirements is secularism, the neutrality of the state when it regulates matters related to the organisation and operation of religious communities. However, this doctrine had been confronted in the past few years by constitutional challenges of all kinds in member states of the Council of Europe, driven by aspirations of various political groups, churches, religious communities gaining political momentum and exercising influences of varied intensity on state and social affairs. Examples comprise the enactment of various church laws from Austria to Armenia. Recent developments in Hungary also show how even a highly “liberal” legal framework of state-church relations may be twisted – seemingly abruptly – in such a way to result in the de facto abandonment of secular values.
Though these examples may seem to be isolated, examining more closely the wide variety of the constitutional arrangements of church-state relations in Europe, a diversified scenery unfolds producing rather contradictory results. In fact, in the system of Council of Europe member states enjoy a wide margin of appreciation in construing their specific regulatory systems, which may extend from an (at least seemingly) absolute secularist stance to the acknowledged maintenance and support of state churches. One may not escape the question whether the concept of secularism had / could have ever been fully transposed in most European states at all?
It seems to be indispensable to reflect upon those recurrent arguments, which attempt to position anti-secularist moves as an acceptable variation or a combination of present “secularist” European constitutional arrangements. The determination of possible common root causes, common patterns, elements and trends of anti-secular processes may also be crucial. Are there constitutional, systemic, regulatory characteristics, rooted in the constitutional tradition of states facing serious challenges to secularism, which anticipate, promote, aid the strengthening of anti-secular processes and regulatory frameworks? How could these be eliminated and made consistent with the wildly different historical, constitutional backgrounds of the states in question? What would be the minimum of constitutional constraints to which states must adhere in order to uphold secularism to an “adequate” level, if such a level may be determined at all? What compromises may be acceptable, what are to be excluded and on what basis? The settlement of these issues would be crucial for any state claiming to adhere to secularist values and committed to uphold freedom of religion at the same time.
I obtained my MA in English Language and Literature at Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences (ELTE), Faculty of Humanities in Budapest in 2002. In 2003 I also graduated at ELTE, Faculty of Law and I earned a D.E.A.: Droit comparé des droits de l’homme in 2004 at Institute des Hautes Études Européennes (IHEE), Université Robert Schumann (URS), Strasbourg. I obtained my PhD at the Doctoral School of Law and Political Sciences of ELTE in 2011.
As of 2008 I have been teaching as assistant professor (since 2014 as associate professor) at John Wesley Theological College (WJLF) while as of 2010 I am also an external lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences of ELTE. As of 2004, I have repeatedly worked as an external expert with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. I have participated as a national expert in various research projects with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, OSI, UNHCR, Odysseus Network or FRANET.
- ‘Útban az “államegyház pluralista változata” felé?’ (Towards “the pluralist version of state church”?, Budapesti Könyvszemle, BUKSZ, 2014, Vol.26/4, pp. 340-348.
- ‘A vallásszabadság a vélt “közérdek” oltárán’ (Freedom of religion laid down for presumed “public interest”), Fundamentum, 2014/3. (18. évf.) 3. sz. pp. 85-99.
- The Hungarian Act CCVI of 2011 on Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Legal Status of Churches, Religious Denominations and Religious Associations in Light of the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, Religion & Human Rights, (Vol. 8) No. 1, Brill, 2013., pp. 3-22.
- EU Asylum Law and Human Rights Protection: Revisiting the Principle of Non-refoulement and the Prohibition of Torture and Other Forms of Ill-treatment, European Journal of Migration and Law 14, pp 119-149.