World Press Photo exhibition: Hungary museum head sacked over LGBT content

26 minutes ago
About sharing

Exhibition attendees view the work of Hannah Reyes Morales – which was closed off to under-18s by the government
By James FitzGerald
BBC News

The head of Hungary’s National Museum has been sacked for allegedly letting under-18s view LGBT content.

A controversial Hungarian law bans the “display and promotion of homosexuality” in materials accessible to children, such as books and films.

The museum recently hosted the World Press Photo exhibition, featuring shots of LGBT people in the Philippines.

The government said Laszlo Simon had failed to follow “legal obligations” with the show – something he denied.

Mr Simon insisted that the museum did not intentionally break any laws, having complied with an order to restrict entry for under-18s.

In a post on Facebook, he added: “As a father and grandparent of four children, I firmly reject the idea that our children should be protected from me or from the institution I lead.”

A far-right lawmaker had earlier demanded the government launch an inquiry into the exhibition over a series of photos that depicted a community of elderly LGBT people in the Philippines.

She cited legislation introduced in Hungary in 2021 that prohibits under-18s from consuming material deemed to promote homosexuality, gay rights or gender change.

The Hungarian government decreed that the snaps broke the law. The museum responded by putting a notice on its website and at the exhibition’s entrance – saying that entry was off-limits to visitors under 18.

Reacting to this development – before Mr Simon’s sacking was announced – World Press Photo organisers told the Associated Press (AP) news agency that the news “shocked us terribly”.

It added this was the first time one of its shows had been censored in Europe.

Meanwhile, the photographer, Hannah Reyes Morales, told AP she was “beyond saddened”, adding: “What is harmful is limiting visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community, and their right to exist and to be seen.”

Mr Simon is a former minister in the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Mr Orban has vowed he is defending Christian values and protecting children with his controversial crackdown on LGBT content.

But this has met sharp condemnation from human rights campaigners, as well as the European Union – of which Hungary is a member. The legislation has previously been labelled a “disgrace” by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

In recent months, authorities used the same law to fine a bookseller for selling the popular British graphic novel Heartstopper – which features a love story between two teenagers – without wrapping the book in a plastic cover.

The World Press Photo exhibition came to a scheduled close in the Budapest museum on Sunday.

Related Topics

More on this story

14 July
11 June 2021