The Director of the Hungarian National Museum Was Fired for Violating a Controversial Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

Museum director László Simon was dismissed for allowing minors to view a World Press Photo show.

Visitors view the award-winning work 'Home for the Golden Gays' by Hannah Reyes Morales at the Hungarian National Museum's World Press Photo exhibition on November 2, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary. Photo by Janos Kummer/Getty Images

The director of the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest has been fired by the country’s culture minister for violating a law against promoting homosexuality to minors.

Museum director László Simon wrote in a Facebook post on November 6 that he had been fired, stating that he had not deliberately violated any laws, particularly the Act LXXIX of 2021 forbidding showing to minors “content that is pornographic or that depicts sexuality in a gratuitous manner or that propagates or portrays divergence from self-identity corresponding to sex at birth, sex change, or homosexuality.”

The Hungarian National Museum is currently hosting its annual World Press Photo exhibition, which arrays photojournalism and documentary photography from the past year, selected by an independent jury. The show features Filipino photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales’s series of images, titled “Home for the Golden Gays,” which documents elderly LGBTQ+ care in Manila. Following a complaint, the museum has barred visitors aged 18 and under from the exhibition.

“I was shocked to hear about this decision,” Joumana El Zein Khoury, executive director of the World Press Photo Foundation, told The Art Newspaper about Simon’s dismissal. “There is nothing explicit or offensive in these images. This series of photos is a thoughtful and honest record of the lives of a community of older LGBTQI+ people in the Philippines.”

According to Simon, Culture Minister János Csák previously acknowledged he had not violated the law in an earlier letter ordering him to prevent minors from viewing the exhibition.

“He believed that I had sabotaged the Child Protection Act,” Simon wrote in his post. “I take note of the decision, but I cannot accept it. By showing the pictures in the World Press Photo exhibition, the museum has not deliberately violated any law.”

Simon said he complied and that the museum “introduced the under-18 restriction” though The Guardian reported that the museum said it did not have the right to ask visitors for their identification. The newspaper also reported that Simon himself had voted for the law’s passage when he was a member of parliament before taking on his museum role in August 2021.

“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 added.

Artnet News has reached out to Simon, as well as Morales and World Press Photo, for additional comment.

 

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