Budapest, Hungary – Hungarian booksellers are now required to cover up in “closed wrapping” children’s books that are seen as promoting homosexuality.
According to a decree published by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, shops selling children’s books will now have to use closed packaging for any kind of book seen as promoting homosexuality, gender change or containing “explicit” depictions of sexuality.
The same governmental decree also completely bans the sale of such books within 200 meters of schools or churches.
In July, a bookshop chain was fined for selling a book depicting the life of a child with same-sex parents without a clear notice.
“This book was placed among other books of fairy tales and this way they breached the law,” the local government commissioner justified. The book distributor was eventually fined for “unfair practice” because it failed to indicate “that a family different from a normal family appears in this book”.
There are rising concerns among booksellers, publishers and writers that the vagueness of the terms could allow Hungarian authorities to restrict the sale of a wide range of publications, from Homer and Shakespeare to Harry Potter, that contain even a hint of content related to homosexuality.
Likely the first of many more to follow, the decree comes in application of a highly controversial law passed in June that bans the “promotion” of homosexuality and gender reassignment in schools.
Hungary is facing legal action from the EU Commission over the legislation, with critics accusing Viktor Orban of intensifying his attacks against the LGBT community less than a year before key parliamentary elections.
“This law uses the protection of children, to which we are all committed, as an excuse to severely discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. This law is disgraceful,” reacted head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
The Hungarian government, for its part, claims the primary goal of the bill is to protect parents’ rights to educate their child as they see fit.