Hungary museum director fired over LGBTQ+ content in photo exhibition

Laszlo Simon denies that the museum violated any laws when including LGBTQ+ images in the World Press Photo exhibition.

Photograph of four people facing photography exhibit in Hungary Museum
Image: X @sal_gueli

Hungarian government officials have fired the director of Hungary’s National Museum for allegedly allowing under-18s to view a photo exhibition featuring LGBTQ+ content.

In 2021, the conservative Hungarian government imposed a controversial law which forbids “promoting homosexuality or gender reassignment” to minors, as well as restricting LGBTQ+ content in media and public spaces. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claims the law protects children, but human rights groups have strongly opposed the legislation.

Earlier this month, after visiting the prestigious World Press Photo exhibition, a local lawmaker filed a complaint with Hungary’s cultural ministry, claiming that the Budapest-based museum breached the so-called “anti-LGBT propaganda” law. This was due to the inclusion of five images by award-winning Filipino photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales, which document the residents of a community-run care home for queer people in Manila.

In response, Hungary imposed a controversial barring order on people younger than 18 from visiting the exhibition

Museum Director Laszlo Simon denies that the museum violated the law. He says the staff had no right to ask visitors for ID, but the museum did have a message on its website noting the age restriction and saying those under 18 should not visit the exhibition.

The Home for the Golden Gays project is said to be “well executed, beautifully photographed, and successfully centres the community’s demonstrations of trust and resilience, instead of indulging in despair.” Some subjects in the collection are dressed in drag and wearing make-up while radiating love, joy and community care. 

Morales’ project has been touring globally since September, and the photographer described the subjects in her images as “icons and role models” to the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines.


Joumana El Zein Khoury, executive director of World Press Photo, said this is the first time an exhibition has faced censorship in Europe. She described the photos as “so positive, so inclusive” and said it was “mind-boggling” that these images and stories were being banned.

This is not the first time that the Hungarian government has taken action against LGBTQ+ content. In July 2023, some Hungarian booksellers were fined for selling copies of Heartstopper that were not wrapped in plastic as required by law.

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