Freedom of Conscience and COVID-19 Vaccination

Reconciling Contradictory Forces

  • Lóránt Csink Professor, Faculty of Law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest, Hungary
Keywords: freedom of conscience, COVID-19, vaccination, compulsory vaccination, contradictory forces


Compulsory COVID vaccination is a timely question to ask as more and more countries introduce it. There is a growing body of case law and literature on child vaccination against a number of well-known diseases,[1] yet the current issue involving the compulsory vaccination of adults against COVID-19 presents a new case. I hypothesise as follows: (a) compulsory vaccination is constitutional, under certain conditions; (b) alternative behaviour must be tolerated if it produces the same end. I verify these hypotheses by analysing the role of conscience in vaccinations in general and in COVID-19 vaccination in particular. I consider the Hungarian context, but the conclusions might apply to other countries as well. The key issue is the extent to which the government should respect individual conscience during a pandemic. I first discuss what conscience is in legal terms. Second, I discuss the legal nature and background of COVID-19 vaccination. Third, I describe the decision of the Hungarian Constitutional Court on mandatory vaccination and compare the current situation with the previous one. Fourth, I analyse the outcome of the ‘comparative test of burdens’. Finally, I summarise my conclusions.


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Case law


Supreme Court of Hungary Bfv.II.25/2009/5. BH2020.147.

Constitutional Court

/2007 (VI. 20.) CC decision

/2020 (III. 2.) CC decision


Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)

How to Cite
CsinkL. (2021). Freedom of Conscience and COVID-19 Vaccination: Reconciling Contradictory Forces. Law, Identity and Values, 1(1), 41-53.