The Hungarian government has banned under-18 visitors from the prestigious World Press Photo Exhibition in Budapest, over images with LGBTQ content. 

Shocking and Mind-Boggling

In a decision deemed “shocking,” and “mind-boggling” by the event director, Hungarian lawmakers have prohibited people under the age of 18 from visiting the World Press Photo Exhibition currently being held in Budapest. 

A Complaint Is Filed

A complaint was filed against the prestigious exhibition by far-right Hungarian lawmaker Dora Duro, concerning a set of five photos with LGBTQ themes from Filipino photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales.

No Explicit Content

The set shows a series of photos of an elderly LGBTQ community living in the Philippines, who all live together in a shared home. They contain no explicit content.

Violation of Hungarian Laws

However, the Hungarian government has affirmed Duro’s complaint, citing a violation of a “child protection” law passed in 2021.

The law was established to ‘protect’ children under the age of 18 from sexual propaganda, with a focus on LGBTQ content. 

Ban on Teenagers and Children

As such, the Hungary National Museum, which is hosting the show in Budapest, has been prohibited from allowing teenagers and children under the age of 18 to visit the exhibition.

Even parental consent will not allow teenagers to circumvent the ban.

The Executive Director Speaks

Many people have spoken out about the ban, including Joumana El Zein Khoury, the executive director of World Press Photo.

“The fact that there is limited access for a certain type of audience is really something that shocked us terribly,” she told the Associated Press.

It’s Positive and Inclusive

“It’s mind-boggling that it’s this specific image, this specific story, and it’s mind-boggling that it’s happening in Europe,” she continued.

Khoury also described the photo set as “so positive, so inclusive,” and affirmed that this is the first time the series has been censored in Europe.

Morales Responds

Reyes Morales also responded to the complaint against her work in an email statement where she insisted that the subjects of her photos were “icons and role models” and were “not dangerous or harmful.” 

“Being Kept in the Shadow”

“What is harmful is limiting visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community, and their right to exist and to be seen,” her statement read.

“I am beyond saddened that their story might not reach people who need it most, saddened that their story is being kept in a shadow.”

Taken Without Prejudice

Tamara Revesz, a Hungarian former jury member of the World Press Photo exhibition, has also condemned the decision.

“Everyone is free to think what they want about the images on display,” he stated. “These pictures were taken without prejudice, and we too should take what we see here without prejudice.”

A Perceived Outrage

But Dora Duro has stood by her decision to file the complaint, describing the photo set as an “outrage” and denying that the government’s response infringed on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. 

“Not the Biggest Problem in the World”

“How the LGBTQ minority lives is not the biggest problem in the world,” she told the Associated Press.

“What we see as normal, what we depict and what we convey to (children) as valuable influences them, and this exhibition is clearly harmful to minors and, I think, to adults too.”

The Next Step

This latest announcement is just one in a series of similar moves by Hungary’s right-wing government under nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

The government has been working to limit and restrict material that is seen as promoting the LGBTQ community, particularly in media. 

Government Overreach

But the decision could be seen as an unfortunate case of government overreach, as around half of the 50,000 people expected to visit the exhibition were students who will now be unable to access any of the collection. 

No Comment

The World Press Photo Exhibition is a prestigious global event visited by around 4 million people each year, so the decision has garnered a lot of attention.

So far, Hungary’s cultural ministry has not responded to requests for comment or interviews.

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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Bob Korn.

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