Orban's government banned 'LGBT propaganda' by claiming to protect young generations from amoral content. Budapest Pride believe they have the right to show commercial material promoting their events.
A cheerful animated video featuring two vibrantly coloured people skating and rollerblading to a festival was banned from being aired during daytime hours in Hungary earlier this year and moved to the nighttime graveyard slot.
The country’s media council reclassified what was supposed to be an advertisement for Budapest Pride’s Community Festival and Parade from “advertising for a social purpose” to ostensibly being educational material, and thus unsuitable for children.
In 2021, the Hungarian government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party amended the law on paedophilia and on the protection of children to limit their exposure to material “promoting homosexuality,” gender reassignment, and LGBT representation in the media or public space.
Violations of the law are punishable with fines or prison sentences.
Now, Budapest Pride is mounting a legal challenge to this decision, claiming that certain provisions of the law against paedophilia clash with the country’s other laws that ensure freedom of speech and artistic expression.
The video in question was made by Luca Tóth, an artist whose work was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlinale.
Earlier this year, the Lira bookstore was fined over €30,000 for displaying an award-winning young adult graphic novel “Heartstopper” in the children's section of the store.
“Heartstopper”, by British author Alice Oseman, is a teen coming-out story centred around teenage boys Charlie and Nick who meet at an all-boys Grammar school.
According to certain interpretations of the anti-paedophilia law, these books need to be either covered up or wrapped in plastic film to prevent younger generations from being unwittingly corrupted by pro-LGBT material if they walk by or flip through the book.
Shortly before this fine was issued to the Budapest-based bookstore, Hungary’s largest bookseller Libri decided to start plastic wrapping all books that contain LGBT characters so customers are unable to open them in bookstores.
After producing the short video ahead of this year’s Pride parade, which took place in July, Budapest Pride sent the video to RTL – the Hungarian offshoot of the popular German commercial channel.
RTL sent it to the Media Council for preliminary classification. In their decision, the Media Council deemed it unsuitable to air during daytime due to younger audiences, and stripped it of its classification as “advertising with a social purpose”.
Budapest Pride is now contesting this decision, claiming that the classification “contradicts scientific facts".
“Every opportunity must be seized to consign the homophobic and transphobic propaganda law to the dustbin of history. Attempts to erase and eliminate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can only end in failure,” they said in a statement.
RTL also mounted a separate challenge to the decision.