Hungarian Museums Introduce Age Restrictions for LGBTQ Exhibitions, Igniting a Cultural Debate

After a ban on youth attendance at the World Press Photo exhibition in Budapest, Hungary, a second Hungarian museum had restricted under-18s from viewing an exhibition with LGBTQ content. 

Two Museums Under Forced Restrictions

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“It is not a question of restricting artistic works” – the Hungarian government has defended a second decision to bar minors from attending a museum photo exhibition that presents LGBTQ content. 

Under 18s Banned

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The Hungarian Museum of Ethnography in Budapest was forced to cordon off a section of one of their most recent photo exhibitions.

No one under the age of 18 will be allowed to enter.

New Rules Instated

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The exhibition was titled ‘Indians. Souls. Survivors,’ created by Brazilian-Hungarian photographer Claudia Andujar.

It opened in mid-September, and though there were no age restrictions initially, the new rules were established last week. 

Entry Restriction

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‘Indians. Souls. Survivors’ is a 1967 photo series, and one work (entitled ‘Homosexuality’) depicts two shirtless adult men touching one another’s shoulder.

Next to the work was a sign indicating that only adults can view this section of the exhibition.

Controversial Law Passed

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A law was passed in 2021 under Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his nationalist government which could criminalize the promotion of homosexuality to anyone under the age of 18.

This is the law that has led to the imposition of restrictions in two Budapest museums over the past month.

Many Groups Speak Out

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The law was met with fierce criticism by LGBTQ and human rights organizations both inside and outside of Hungary.

The European Union also spoke out against the decision.

The EU Steps In

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The European Parliament accused the law of breaching “EU values, principles and law,” and Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, called it “a disgrace.”

World Press Photo Exhibition

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The newest ban comes after Laszlo Simon, the director of the Hungarian National Museum, was fired for failing to enforce an age restriction ban on the World Press Photo exhibition in Budapest, one of the most prestigious annual international photography events. 

Museum Director Refuses

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The museum director told the Hungarian government that he “cannot legally enforce” the under-18s ban.

The issue revolved around a photo series of an elderly LGBTQ community in the Philippines, photographed by Hannah Reyes Morales. Simon was fired for failing to follow “legal obligations” to the Hungarian government. 

Chief of Staff Denies Accusations

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Last week, a government conference was held by Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, to address the recent decisions around museum exhibitions and accusations of censorship. 

Not a Question of Artistic Censorship

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“It is not a question of restricting artistic works but specifically content promoting homosexuality, which should not be made available to minors,” Gulyas said in an adamant denial of government censorship.

Definition Is Too Ambiguous

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However, several organizations have argued that the Hungarian government has not presented an adequate definition of what constitutes “promotion” of homosexuality, and this ambiguity is having a negative run-on effect.

No Positive or Neutral Representation

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


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Museums are not the only institutions that have been affected by the 2021 law.

In July this year, the Hungarian retailer Lira Kiskereskedelmi Kft was fined over 30,000 euros for selling the British book ‘Heartstopper’ without a foil cover. The book depicts homosexuality amongst minors and is targeted at a young adult readership.

The post Hungarian Museums Introduce Age Restrictions for LGBTQ Exhibitions, Igniting a Cultural Debate first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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

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