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Hungary Fires National Museum Director for Allowing Minors in Exhibit with LGBTQ Content

'I take note of the decision, but I cannot accept it,' wrote Laszlo L. Simon, who oversaw the Hungarian National Museum

The director of the Hungarian National Museum was terminated for reportedly failing to comply with a law prohibiting displaying LGBTQ-related imagery to minors.

Hungary’s Minister for Culture and Innovation Janos Csak terminated Laszlo L. Simon on Nov. 6. Simon had been hired as the museum director in 2021 and was set to serve for five years.

The museum is hosting the World Press Photo Exhibition, which features work from photojournalists.

Five of the photos on display were determined to be in violation of the Child Protection Act, which was established in 2021 to prevent the promotion of LGBTQ and gender-alteration-related content to underage citizens. The ban extends to television, films, advertisements and literature.

The photos feature elderly LGBTQ people in the Philippines who live in a communal home. Some of the members of the community were dressed in drag in the displayed images. The exhibit “receives more than 4 million visitors from around the world every year” and its “mission is to bring visual coverage of a range of important events to a global audience,” reports Time Magazine

The government intervened in late October following an inquiry initiated by the Mi Hazank party. 

“Based on the initiative of Mi Hazank, youngsters under 18 cannot visit the exhibition at the National Museum as it violates the child protection law,” a spokesperson for the right-wing party told a national media outlet, per Reuters.

Csak said in a statement that Simon failed to ensure the museum met its legal obligations, according to RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.

“I take note of the decision, but I cannot accept it,” wrote Simon on his Facebook page after he was let go, per NBC News. “As a father of four and a grandparent, I firmly reject the idea that our children should be protected from me or from the institution I run.”

Simon is a member of the same political party – Fidesz Party – as Prime Minister Viktor Orban and previously served as a former MP. He voted in favor of the Child Protection Act, reports Barron’s

The museum has now added a notice on its website that World Press Photo is only open to visitors over the age of 18.

Hungary is regularly criticized for its Child Protection Law. In 2022, 15 members of the European Union filed a lawsuit against Hungary wherein they claimed the law was a violation of the union’s values. 

“This Hungarian bill is a shame,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in 2021, per EuroNews. “This bill clearly discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and it goes against all the fundamental values of the European Union: this is human dignity, it is equality and it’s the human fundamental rights. So we will not compromise on these principles.”

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