Author: William S. New
Institution: Beloit College
ORCID: 5433-3228
Year of publication: 2021
Source: Show
Pages: 137-150
DOI Address:
PDF: em/14/em1407.pdf

In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights decided the case of Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary in favor of the two Romani boys who alleged that they had been misdiagnosed as ‘mildly mentally retarded’ and consequently placed and retained in a special school for their whole primary education. This, they claimed, deprived them of the educational opportunity to pursue their chosen vocational interests. In this research note, I will provide a brief view of the history of special education in Hungary, and the history of mental retardation in its medical/pedagogic connections. I will suggest that the Court’s decision, while a positive development, fails to address the fundamental systemic racism of the entire medico/educational system in Hungary, and that until that more radical change is undertaken, a disproportionate number of Romani children will continue to be officially and unofficially treated as mentally deficient.


  • Barnes Kristen, G. 2017. Adjudicating Equality: Anti-discrimination edu­cation jurisprudence in the European Court of Human Rights. Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice. 33, pp. 202–249.
  • Clarke, A.M. and Clarke, A.D.D. 1974. Mental deficiency: The changing out­look (3rd. Ed) London: Methuen.
  • Crowe, D. 1991. The Roma (Gypsies) in Hungary through the Kadar era. Nationalities Papers. 19 (3), pp. 297–311.
  • Czeizel, A., Lányi-Engelmayer, A., Klujber, L., Métneki, J. and Tusnády, G. 1980. Etiological study of mental retardation in Budapest, Hungary. Amer­ican Journal of Mental Deficiency. 85 (2), pp. 120–128.
  • Eliason, A. 2017. With no deliberate speed: The segregation of Roma chil­dren in Europe. Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law. 27, pp. 191–241.
  • Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary European Court of Human Rights Ap­plication no. 11146/11.
  • Lanyi-Engelmayer, A., Katona, F. and Czeizel, A. 1983. Current issues in men­tal retardation in Hungary. Applied Research in Mental Retardation. 4 (2), pp. 123–138.
  • Majtényi, B. and Majtényi, G. 2016. A Contemporary History of Exclusion: The Roma Issue in Hungary from 1945 to 2015. Budapest: Central Euro­pean University Press.
  • McCagg, W.O. 1991. Gypsy policy in socialist Hungary and Czechoslovakia, 1945–1989. Nationalities Papers. 19 (3), pp. 313–336.
  • Pickette, J. 2015. Madness on the margins: Biopolitics and Roma school segre­gation in the case. Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary. Budapest: CEU.
  • Sarason, S.B. and Doris, J. 1979. Educational handicap, public policy, and social history: A broadened perspective on mental retardation. New York: Free Press.
  • Szénássy, E. 2017. Finding space for Romani women within the EU. In: Kováts, E. ed. The Future of the European Union. Feminist perspectives from East-Central Europe. Budapest: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, pp. 37–45.
  • Szondy, M. and Szentágothai, K.R. 1981. Assessment and management of mental retardation in Hungary. Applied Research in Mental Retardation. 2 (2), pp. 139–144.
  • Van Niekerk, P. A. 1979. The orthopaedagogical within the pedagogical. South African Journal of Pedagogy. 13 (1), pp. 183–191.
  • Varsa, E. 2017. “The (final) solution of the Gypsy-question:” continuities in discourses about Roma in Hungary, 1940s-1950s. Nationalities Papers. 45 (1), pp. 114–130.

Wiadomość do:



© 2017 Adam Marszałek Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Projekt i wykonanie Pollyart