The director of the National Museum of Hungary has been terminated on suspicion of allowing individuals under the age of 18 to access LGBT-themed materials.
Legal Restrictions on LGBT-Themed Materials
The “display and promotion of homosexuality” in family-friendly media, including novels and films, is prohibited by a contentious Hungarian statute.
Recently, the museum exhibited World Press Photo photographs of LGBT individuals in the Philippines.
He denied the government’s claim that Laszlo Simon had violated “legal obligations” with the performance.
Protests Against Censorship and Its Impact
Since the museum complied an injunction restricting under-18s, Mr. Simon claimed it had not knowingly infringed the law.
He further stated in a Facebook post, “As the father and grandfather of four children, I unequivocally denounce the notion that our offspring ought to be shielded from my person or the establishment I preside over.”
In the past, a far-right lawmaker had urged the government to initiate an investigation into the exhibition in response to a series of photographs depicting an elderly LGBT community in the Philippines.
Legislation that was implemented in Hungary in 2021 prohibits individuals under the age of 18 from accessing content that is considered to advocate for homosexuality, LGBT rights, or gender transition.
The Hungarian government issued a decree declaring the photos illegal. The museum replied by preventing under-18s from entering the exhibition on its website and at the door.
Ongoing International Concerns and Criticism
As a result of Mr. Simon’s dismissal, the coordinators of World Press Photo expressed “shock.”
“Nothing explicit or offensive” was present in the images, according to World Press Photo executive director Joumana El Zein Khoury.
He said this series of photos offers a genuine and introspective look at an ageing LGBTQI+ community in the Philippines.
He had previously stated that this censorship in Europe was unprecedented among the World Press Photo events.
Previously, photographer Hannah Reyes Morales expressed herself as “extremely saddened.” She stated to the AP news agency prior to Mr. Simon’s dismissal, “What is harmful is limiting the LGBTQIA+ community’s visibility and their right to exist and be seen.”
Mr. Simon served as a minister during the right-leaning administration of former Prime Minister Viktor Orban. While defending Christian values and safeguarding minors, Mr. Orban claims that his controversial crackdown on LGBT content is necessary.
Human rights groups and the EU, of which Hungary is a member, strongly oppose this. A former head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, characterised the legislation as a “disgrace.”
In recent months, a bookseller was fined under the same legislation for selling the popular British graphic novel Heartstopper, which depicts the romantic adventures of two male adolescents, without a plastic cover.
On Sunday, the World Press Photo exhibition at the Budapest museum concluded as planned.