A bookstore chain in Hungary was fined for selling a children’s story depicting a day in the life of a child with same-sex parents, and officials condemned the picture book for featuring those families.
The picture book, Micsoda család !, is a Hungarian translation combining two titles by American author Lawrence Schimel and illustrator Elīna Brasliņa: Early One Morning, which shows the morning of a boy with his two mothers, and Bedtime, Not Playtime!, in which a girl with two parents is reluctant to go to sleep.
Reuters reported that the fine of 250,000 guilders (£ 600) was imposed on the Líra Könyv bookstore chain by the county of Pest, the local authority for the area around Budapest.
Pest County Commissioner Richard Tarnai told Hír TV television station that Líra Könyv had violated the rules on unfair business practices by failing to clearly state that the book contained “content that deviates from the norm.”
“The book was there among other fairy tale books and therefore he committed rape,” Tarnai said. “There is no way to know that this book is about a family other than a normal family.”
Schimel wrote on Twitter that the Hungarian government is “trying to normalize hatred and prejudice with these concerted attacks on books like mine … that represent for children the plural and diverse world in which they live.”
He told The Guardian that the idea of the books was “to celebrate queer families, to bring more queer joy to the world, so that the only books available to children are not about conflict.”
“In these stories, the fact that the parents are two moms or two dads is incidental to the story, as it is to the daily lives of children in rainbow families. These families not only experience homophobia, they also have fun, ”he said.
Lyric book said that he would now put up a sign warning customers that he was selling “books with different content than the traditional ones.”
“Rainbow families are ordinary families,” said the book’s Hungarian distributor, Foundation for Rainbow Families, said in a statement. “These families haven’t had their own storybook until now. So we thought it was important to publish a fairy tale book about them and, first of all, for them. “
Despite the events in Hungary, Schimel said he was “more determined to keep trying to create books like these, books that respect children’s intelligence and offer them the vast and complex world in a fun and accessible way.”
Schimel’s books will be published in the UK this fall, in both Welsh and English.
The fine was imposed under a Hungarian law prohibiting unfair business practices, but comes during a broader crackdown on LGBT rights in Hungary, under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
A widely criticized new law, which prohibits LGBT people from appearing in educational materials or television shows for children under the age of 18, takes effect Thursday. The government claims that the law is designed to protect children.
On the same day, the European Parliament is expected to condemn the law and urge the European Commission to accelerate a legal case against Hungary for discrimination against LGBT people.
The law has already been condemned as “unacceptable” by the Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers Association, which said it “creates the conditions to restrict freedom of the arts and of expression.” He warned that “various masterpieces of world and Hungarian literature” currently used in the high school curriculum, including Sappho, Ovid, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, Mihály Babits and Sándor Weöres, could be banned.
Earlier this year, the Hungarian government ordered a disclaimer warning about “behavior incompatible with traditional gender roles” to be printed on a fairy tale anthology containing some stories with LGBT themes.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism