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

Hungary sacks museum chief for not enforcing controversial LGBT ban on under-18s at exhibition which aims to ‘protect children’

  • Laszlo Simon confirmed online that he was sacked but denied breaking laws 

Hungary’s government has sacked the director of the National Museum today after it allowed under-18s to visit a World Press Photo exhibit showcasing LGBT content, despite a legal ban. 

The Minister for Culture and Innovation said in a statement on Monday that Laszlo Simon, the director of the museum, had been dismissed for failing to comply ‘with the legal obligations of the institution’.

Mr Simon acknowledged his sacking in a Facebook post but denied that the museum had deliberately violated any laws. 

He said the museum had immediately flagged the age restriction on its website ‘without delay’.

Hungary passed a law in 2021 that bans the ‘display and promotion of homosexuality’ in books and films accessible to under-18s. Pictured, demonstrations during the Budapest Pride parade

Tensions over the exhibition surfaced last month when far-right Mi Hazank from the Our Homeland party initiated a government inquiry over the issue. 

The party cited a 2021 law that bans the ‘display and promotion of homosexuality’ in books and films accessible to under-18s.

The law, which Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government says aims to protect children, has come under fire from the European Union and human rights groups.

The National Museum of Hungary was showcasing LGBT photography. Pictured, visitors wait outside the Hungarian National Museum to enter the World Press Photo exhibition

Following 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 ministry of culture and the government spokesman did not reply immediately to emailed questions.

Mr Simon, a former lawmaker in Orban’s conservative Fidesz party, had ironically thanked My Homeland in an earlier Facebook post for giving the exhibition publicity as long queues formed outside the museum over the weekend.

Earlier 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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