Second Hungarian museum bars minors over LGBTQ content

Hungary’s Museum of Ethnography has restricted access to part of a photo exhibition titled “Indians. Souls. Survivors,” featuring Claudia Andujar’s work.

Hungary’s Museum of Ethnography is barring minors from part of a photo exhibition showing homosexuality, a week after the head of another museum was sacked for failing to enforce an access ban.

The culture minister fired the director of the Hungarian National Museum on November 6 for “failing to comply” with a controversial law that bans the “promotion” of homosexuality to people under 18.

The institution had said it “cannot legally enforce” the order stopping under-18s attending the prestigious annual World Press Photo exhibition, which showed a series of pictures of a community of older LGBTQ people in the Philippines.

Following that row, the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest cordoned off a section of an exhibition titled “Indians. Souls. Survivors” by Claudia Andujar, a Brazilian photographer with Hungarian heritage.

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Near her 1967 photo series, including a work entitled “Homosexuality” showing two bare-chested men, one touching the other’s shoulder, a sign in both Hungarian and English now instructs visitors that only adults can view this part of the display.

The exhibition opened in mid-September without any restrictions.

Left-wing daily Nepszava first reported on the new rules on Sunday.

An AFP photographer at the scene was asked by a museum employee about his age before he entered the restricted part of the exhibition. He was not, however, asked for his ID.

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Neither the ethnography museum nor the government have responded to AFP’s request for comment.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist government passed the law against “promoting” homosexuality to minors in 2021, drawing criticism at home and abroad, including from the European Union.

Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, last week rejected accusations of censorship.

“It is not a question of restricting artistic works but specifically content promoting homosexuality, which should not be made available to minors,” Gulyas said during a government press conference on Thursday.

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But rights organisations say the law does not clearly define what counts as the “promotion” of homosexuality, which is having a negative effect.

“You are increasingly unlikely to see LGBTQ people portrayed in any positive or even in a neutral light in the media,” Luca Dudits, a board member of LGBTQ rights group Hatter Society, told AFP.

At the Hungarian National Museum, minors were barred from the World Press Photo exhibition after a complaint from the far-right Our Homeland party, which said it wanted to defend “the traditional family model”.

In July, a bookshop chain received a hefty fine for not covering up the British graphic novel “Heartstopper” about two boys falling in love in high school.

– By: © Agence France-Presse