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Hungary: Films “promoting LGBT topics” receive same rating as violent horror movies

Budapest, Hungary – Some films featuring LGBT themes will now face the same restrictions as violent horror movies, according to new guidelines issued by the Hungarian government.

The Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH), Hungary’s broadcasting regulator, issued new regulations on September 15 to update the rating and distribution system of movies and TV series.

“Pro-LGBT” movies equated with horror films in new Hungarian guidelines

According to the new rules, movies where LGBT and gender change topics can be considered a “defining feature” of the film will receive the same rating as violent horror movies, and would “not be recommended” for people under the age of 18.

The portrayal of homosexuality or LGBT themes is not banned outright, and movies where these issues are not considered a prominent and central part of the story won’t see their ratings change.

“General gestures expressing tenderness, like a kiss on the cheeks, a hug, holding hands while walking, cannot be considered problematic unless they are portrayed for their own sake or constitute a central element of the program”.

But the regulator pointed out that movies such as Pedro Almodovar’s All About My Mother, which features a trans woman as one of the main characters, or The L Word series, following the lives of lesbian and bisexual women, would face similar restrictions as The Exorcist or the Saw series under the new guidelines.

In remains unclear how the programming of the country’s top broadcasters, including streaming platforms like Netflix or HBO, will be affected by the revised rules.

Growing fears of censorship

The new broadcasting guidelines come on the heels of a controversial law, passed in June, banning the “depiction and promotion of homosexuality” and LGBT themes to minors.

While the Hungarian government claims the bill aims to protect parents’ rights to educate their children as they see fit, critics – including the EU, the US and numerous rights organisations – see it as PM Viktor Orban’s latest attack against the rights of the gay and LGBT community.

The law could have wide-ranging consequences, not only for the film industry, but for other cultural sectors as well.

Last month, a governmental decree published in application of the controversial “anti-LGBT” law ordered shops to use closed packaging for children’s books that can be seen as promoting homosexuality, while completely banning their sale within 200 meters of schools and churches.

In July, a bookshop chain was also fined for failing to put a clear and explicit notice on a book focused on the life of a child living with same-sex parents.

Coordinated by Ábel Bede, Kafkadesk's Budapest office is made up of a growing team of freelance journalists, editors and fact-checkers passionate about Hungarian affairs and dedicated to bringing you all the latest news, events and insights from Hungary.