Hungarian government isolates literature and media containing LGBTQ content


The first element of Hungary’s ban on promoting homosexuality has been enshrined in law and will take effect in less than 30 days. The new decree on commercial activities prohibits, among other things, the sale of content displaying homosexuality within 200 meters of schools, churches and youth institutions. In areas where it may be sold, content depicting or popularizing any form of homosexuality, gender shifting, gender identity other than sex, or selfish sexuality should be separated from all other content and sold in closed packaging.

The first decree on Hungary’s new “child protection law”, passed in June in the face of international criticism for specifically targeting the LGBTQ community, has been legalized and will come into force in less than a month. Published among the Hungarian Gazette government decrees on commercial activity last Friday. The ruling demands that the sale of LGBTQ content (books, films, etc.) be isolated from all other content and kept away from educational institutions and Hungarian churches.

LGBTQ content to tag and separate

There are three sections in the act. The first prohibits “placing products intended for children in shop windows or in public view if they contain content displaying or promoting a gender identity other than sex, gender reassignment, selfish sexuality or homosexuality ”.

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The second section states that stores that wish to sell such content cannot be located within 200 meters of the gates of schools, youth institutions, churches or religious institutions.

The third section requires that all such content be “segregated from all other products and sold in closed packaging”.

Literature filled with LGBTQ related content

The National Media Council is still analyzing how it can follow the law, which is unclear when it comes to advertisements and TV shows. TV shows must change age restrictions without a valid official recommendation, which could now lead to self-censorship.

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Writer and literary historian Krisztián Nyári, creative director of one of Hungary’s biggest publishers, Líra, also spoke of the challenges books can face. He explained that since homosexuality has, even since ancient times, been mentioned in many poems found in literary collections intended for schools, “Literature classes should take place in secret places far from schools and churches, and literary collections should be sold in closed packaging, separately from all other textbooks.

In response, the government said the move does not target literary collections. HVG has not received a response regarding which government agencies will be responsible for analyzing literature that violates the law and whether literary works will be individually inspected for violation.

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The poll also looked at the issue in relation to party preference.

The second section also raises the question of whether Hungarian bookstores that were until now located near churches or schools will choose to relocate or stop selling all of their LGBTQ-related content. There could be mountains of literature that these stores cannot sell if the law is interpreted as a ban on books that mention, for example, a homosexual character or a non-heterosexual identity.

What about the regulation of education?

Despite the June ruling announcing restrictions on how sexual information can be shared in schools and by whom, this decree only regulates the sale of books and media. Further regulations concerning educational institutions will likely follow this decree.

Regardless of the fact that this has not yet been introduced into Hungarian law, the ruling has already specified that only a legally recognized body can talk to students about ‘sexual culture, gender identity, sexual development, effects harmful drugs, the dangers of the Internet. , and other subjects related to bodily or mental development.

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The liberal weekly HVG has contacted the Government Information Office (KTK) to ask when further detailed rules will be available. KTK replied that “the designation of organizations authorized to be involved in sex education in kindergartens and schools will also occur.”

Jobbik suggested a similar “child protection” law in 2012

The law, which has faced huge backlash from the European Union on human rights violations, has been justified by statements by Fidesz officials that it is only intended for the protection of human rights. children. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has repeatedly claimed that Brussels is attacking Hungary and trying to let LGBTQ activists into schools.

The government has since launched a national consultation on “child protection” and will hold a referendum on the subject with five questions. Meanwhile, the law, which was protested by thousands of Hungarians before its enactment, is subject to infringement proceedings by the European Commission.

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Both proceedings raise the objection that Hungary has failed to explain why exposing children to LGBTIQ material would be detrimental to their well-being.

With the attention generated by this law, it is clear that in 2012, the right-wing Jobbik party, at the time much more radical, had the same idea in mind. They wanted to ban the promotion of homosexuality “in the interest of protecting the healthy thinking of the younger generations.” When the opposition party recommended that the suggestion be enacted, Fidesz considered it a “unnecessary and unjustified provocation”.

Featured photo illustration by Attila Balázs / MTI

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