Hungarian government orders publisher to print disclaimers on LGBTQ+ related books

Following the Hungarian governments orders to print disclaimers on books, an LGBTQ+ group threatened to take legal action in court.

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The Hungarian Consumer Protection Agency have ordered a publisher to print disclaimers on LGBTQ+ books as containing “behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles”.

On Tuesday, January 19, the Consumer Protection Agency claimed the disclaimer was necessary to protect readers against “alternative gender roles. Their decision was in response to an anthology fairytale book titled Wonderland Is For Everyone, which included a poem about a prince who marries another prince along with other stories depicting underrepresented and marginalised communities.

In a released statement, the Hungarian government office in Budapest claimed, “The book is sold as a fairytale, called so on its cover and designed accordingly, but it hides the fact that it depicts behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles.”

An association for LBTQ+ women, Labrisz, published the book in order to help teach children about being respectful of different backgrounds. Following the government’s orders to print a disclaimer on it, they shared, “Consumer protection would stigmatize everyone in Fairy Tale Land and oblige the publishing Labrisz Lesbian Association to indicate in the book that the tales are different from the traditional ones. The Basic Law prohibits discrimination.”

Labrisz are threatening to sue the Hungarian government over their enforcement of disclaimers on LGBTQ+ related books, stating it was unconstitutional and discriminatory. They are also calling on people to protest against the orders by highlighting that numerous fairy tales and media represent a diverse range of family units.

In a prepared letter for the Consumer Protection Agency, it states, “I find it particularly worrying that the tales listed often convey a false image as if they were just about the fun adventures of dear children, sometimes talking animals, rather than questioning the content of “traditional gender roles”. In order to protect the unity of law, the requirement of due process and the effective enforcement of the principle of non-discrimination, I consider it important to signal all this to the Honorable Authority.”

The letter addresses the double standards integrated in the Hungarian government’s own decision making process regarding which books require disclaimers. Labrisz further state, “Consumer protection has not defined what are the “traditional gender roles” from which the behavioral patterns of everyone in the Fairytale Land would differ. Thus, we urge everyone to follow the example of the original applicant guideline and report similarly “deceptive” tales!”

Across Europe, numerous human rights groups are standing against discriminatory policies and laws being enforced by authorities. Against widespread anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric from government officials, the community are seeking legal action and global support. 

On Tuesday, January 19, the European Court of Human Rights found Romania in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights due to a lack of proper legal framework for legal gender recognition. Human rights groups ILGA-Europe and Transgender Europe (TGEU) welcomed theis ruling in the cases of X and Y v Romania.

Head of Litigation at ILGA-Europe, Arpi Aveistyan stated, “We welcome this judgment as it reiterates the need for establishment of a clear legal framework for the legal gender recognition without any requirements violating the right to privacy and bodily integrity in Council of Europe Member States.”

“Putting trans people in a dilemma of choosing between having their physical integrity respected or having their gender identity recognised is unacceptable. The Court took note of declining number of Member States requiring gender reassignment surgery as a prerequisite for legal gender recognition. It is time that countries across Europe set in place legal gender recognition procedures in line with international human rights standards,” Aveistyan continued.

Member of the TGEU Board Antonella Lerca shared, “Transgender people in Romania are very excited about the news from the European Court of Human Rights. We have been waiting for a long time to hear this, particularly those at the margins. Trans sex workers, poor and homeless trans people, have been rejected by society and been trampled on by the State.”

“We call upon the Romanian state to respect its obligations and immediately introduce a legal gender recognition procedure that is quick, transparent, and accessible and based on self-determination,” Lerca concluded. 

The judgement marks a significant victory for the LGBTQ+ community in Europe as trans rights continue to be infringed upon across different states. In countries such as Hungary, gender recognition has been pushed back against by government officials through implementing restrictive laws regarding gender recognition. 

While LGBTQ+ rights continue to come under attack across Europe, the queer community and human rights groups are taking a stand against this discrimination. They are speaking out against these harmful policies in powerful calls for justice and equality.

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