Hungary sacks museum chief for not enforcing under-18s ban at LGBT exhibition

In World

Hungary’s government dismissed the director of the National Museum on Monday after it allowed under-18s to visit a World Press Photo exhibition featuring images of LGBT people, despite laws banning the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors.

Tensions over the exhibition surfaced last month when the far-right Mi Hazank (Our Homeland) party launched a government inquiry over the issue. The photos at the heart of the inquiry, Home for the Golden Gays by the photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales, follow the inhabitants of a community-run aged care home for LGBT people in Manila, the Philippines.

Mi Hazank cited a 2021 law that bans the “display and promotion of homosexuality” in books and films accessible to under-18s.

The law, which the prime minister Viktor Orbán’s government says aims to protect children, has come under fire from the EU and human rights groups.

After the government inquiry, the museum said it had no right to ask visitors for ID to determine their age but it included a message on its website calling on under-18s not to visit the exhibition.

The minister for culture and innovation said on Monday that Laszlo Simon, the museum’s director, had been dismissed for failing to comply “with the legal obligations of the institution“.

Simon acknowledged his sacking in a Facebook post but denied that the museum had deliberately violated any laws. He said the institute had immediately flagged the age restriction on its website “without delay“.

The ministry of culture and government spokespeople did not reply immediately to Reuters’ emailed questions.

Simon – a former lawmaker in Orbán’s conservative Fidesz party – had thanked Mi Hasank in an earlier Facebook post for giving the exhibition publicity as long queues formed outside the museum at the weekend.

This year some Hungarian booksellers were fined for selling books depicting homosexuality, which were not wrapped in plastic as required by the legislation.

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