Ban on Begging

News Brief: Apr. 2010

The Viennese state Parliament has decided on a prohibition of “commercial” begging. The People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ) have favored the draft law by the Social Democrats (SPÖ). However, the Green Party vehemently disagreed and even demanded a voting by name on Mar. 26, which did not influence the outcome.

By no later than June, “commercial” begging will be legally punished by a fine of up to €700. Moreover, it will be possible for the authorities to remove beggars from the entrances of public buildings if they block the entryway. In Vienna, begging with children and “aggressive” begging have been forbidden since June 2008.

Addressing an unusually big audience in Vienna’s City Hall, FPÖ member Johann Gudenus demanded a general ban on begging, claiming that “almost every beggar is a soldier of the begging mafia.”

A lively debate also took place outside of the building where Liberal protestors dressed as homeless people showed their support. Due to the limited space in the hall, however, they were not allowed to enter the building.

Several NGOs and the Austrian Caritas have heavily criticized the ban, as it seems that the law will lead to a general prohibition of begging.

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