Hungary’s Clampdown on Expression – World Press Photo Exhibit Off-Limits to Teens Over LGBTQ+ Content

Hungary’s conservative government has stirred controversy by barring individuals under 18 from attending this year’s World Press Photo exhibition in Budapest. 

Hungary’s Far-Right Restrictions

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The decision comes in the wake of a complaint from a far-right Hungarian lawmaker, who alleged that some of the exhibition’s photographs violate the country’s contentious law restricting LGBTQ+ content. 

A Powerful Global Exhibition

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The World Press Photo exhibition, hosted in Hungary’s National Museum, is renowned worldwide for its role in showcasing exceptional photojournalism. 

A Global Event

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Each year, it attracts over 4 million visitors from across the globe, serving as a platform for powerful visual coverage of significant events.

Censorship Sparks Outrage

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However, this year’s exhibition faced turmoil as five photographs captured by Filipino photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales sparked outrage among Hungary’s conservative factions. 

The Photos in Question

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The images feature an elderly LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines who have shared their lives for decades, offering care and support as they age. Some members of this community are shown in drag, wearing makeup.

An Unprecedented Act of Censorship

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This marked the first instance of censorship for a World Press Photo exhibition in Europe, leaving Joumana El Zein Khoury, executive director of World Press Photo, deeply concerned. 

“So Positive, So Inclusive”

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She stressed that the series is “so positive, so inclusive,” making it disheartening to see it targeted by Hungary’s government. 

Khoury’s Concern

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When interviewed by the Associated Press Khoury said, “The fact that there is limited access for a certain type of audience is really something that shocked us terribly.”

Khoury’s Concern (cont.)

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“It’s mind-boggling that it’s this specific image, this specific story, and it’s mind-boggling that it’s happening in Europe.”

No Way In

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Even with parental consent, minors under the age of 18 are now denied access to the exhibition.

Hungary’s Struggle with LGBTQ+ Content

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Hungary’s current government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has been actively working to curtail LGBTQ+ content in the media, including TV, film, advertisements, and literature. 

Controversial “Child Protection” Law

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This has culminated in the controversial 2021 “child protection” law, designed to shield minors from what the government labels as sexual propaganda.

Widespread Criticism 

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However, the law has elicited widespread criticism, with 15 EU countries initiating legal action, and the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, denouncing it as “a disgrace.”

A Far-Right Lawmaker’s Perspective

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Dora Duro, the far-right lawmaker who raised the complaint against the exhibition, defended her stance, asserting that the display was “harmful to minors and, I think, to adults too.” 

“Risky” Content

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She stated that what is depicted as normal influences children and needs to be shielded, insisting that the exhibition’s content poses a risk.

A Photographer’s Response

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Photographer Hannah Reyes Morales rebutted these claims, stating that her subjects serve as “icons and role models” to the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines. 

Not Dangerous, But Crucial

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She emphasized, “What is harmful is limiting visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community, and their right to exist and to be seen,” continuing, “I am beyond saddened that their story might not reach people who need it most, saddened that their story is being kept in a shadow.”

Chilling Impact on Hungary’s Youth

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The decision to restrict the exhibition’s access has prompted concerns about the thousands of Hungarian students who visit the exhibition each year. 

Far More Shocking Content 

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Tamas Revesz, an organizer of Hungary’s exhibitions for over three decades, pointed out that many of the photographs, such as those depicting the war in Ukraine, are far more serious and shocking than the contested series.

Presented Without Prejudice

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He underscored the importance of open-mindedness and impartiality when viewing the images on display, highlighting that they are presented without prejudice.

Freedom For Who? 

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In a time where press freedom and artistic expression are at the forefront of global debates, Hungary’s actions at the World Press Photo exhibition continue to spark controversy and condemnation.

The post Hungary’s Clampdown on Expression – World Press Photo Exhibit Off-Limits to Teens Over LGBTQ+ Content Images first appeared on Pulse of Pride

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alexandros Michailidis. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.