Are you sure?

President signs Hungary’s new constitution

Hungarian President Pál Schmitt formally signed the country's new constitution into law on Monday. The signing ceremony took place in the presidential palace.

With the president's signature, the new basic law, which was already adopted by parliament a week ago, will enter into force on January 1, 2012. "A constitution is born, one which will be the pride of future generations of Hungarians," Schmitt said.

The constitution has drawn heavy criticism, not only from opposition parties, but also international rights groups, such as Amnesty International, which last week said the law "violates international and European human rights standards."

Under the text, a host of laws will now require a two-thirds majority in parliament to be adopted, almost guaranteeing they cannot be changed in the future.

When the law was put to parliament last week, the opposition MSzP and LMP party boycotted both the vote and the preceding debate in the assembly, while the far-right Jobbik voted against the text.

Since its preamble is laden with references to God, Christianity, the Holy Crown of Hungary, the fatherland and traditional family values, critics have slammed the new constitution as discriminatory. They have raised fears about the status of those who will not fit the mould, such as non-believers, homosexuals or single-parent families.

The Council of Europe has tasked constitutional experts with reviewing the new law.     Experts of the Venice Commission, an independent advisory body to the Council of Europe, are to travel to Budapest on May 18 and report back to the pan-European rights body's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in June.