Red Star - Legal Status

Legal Status

See also: Hammer and sickle#Controversy and legal status

The red star and the hammer and sickle are regarded as occupation symbols as well as symbols of totalitarianism and state terror by several countries formerly occupied by the Soviet Union. Accordingly, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary have banned the symbol. In Poland, the Parliament passed in 2009 a ban that referred generally to "fascist, communist or other totalitarian symbols", while not specifying any of them. Following a constitutional complaint, it has been abolished by the Constitutional Tribunal as contrary to the art. 42(1) (construed here as requiring adequate precision of a law that imposes penal liability) in connection with art. 54(1) (the freedom of speech) and art. 2 of the Polish Constitution (effective from 03.08.2011). A similar law was considered in Estonia, but eventually failed in a parliamentary committee as too onerous for constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, most importantly, freedom of speech.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled, in a similar manner, against the laws that ban political symbols, which were deemed to be in clear opposition with basic human rights, such as freedom of speech., confirmed again in 2011 in case Fratanolo v. Hungary. The decision has been compared to the legislation concerning the symbols of Nazism, which continue to be banned in several European Union member states, including Germany and France.

There have been calls for an EU-wide ban on both Soviet and Nazi symbols, notably by politicians from Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. The European Commissioner for Justice, Franco Frattini, initially expressed support for the idea, but the proposal was eventually withdrawn because there was no consensus on which symbols to ban.

In 2003, Hungarian politician Attila Vajnai was arrested, handcuffed and fined for wearing a red star on his lapel during a demonstration. He appealed his sentence to the European Court of Human Rights, which decided that the ban was a violation of the freedom of expression, calling the Hungarian ban "indiscriminate" and "too broad".

In Slovenia the red star is respected as a symbol of resistance against fascism and Nazism. On March 21, 2011, Slovenia issued a two-euro commemorative coin to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Franc Rozman, a partizan commander, featuring a large star that represented a red star.

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