Friday, January 21

Hungary fines publisher 700 euros for LGBT children’s book ‘rainbow families’

Hungarian authorities have fined the distributor of a children’s book featuring families headed by same-sex parents, based on a law that outlaws unfair business practices and fuels a debate over recent government measures seen as limiting children’s rights. LGBT people.

The fine comes as the Hungarian government is already under widespread scrutiny for legislation it passed last month that prohibits the description of homosexuality or gender reassignment to minors.

The law, which takes effect on Thursday, was described by rights groups as an attack on the LGBT community and rebuked by senior European officials as a violation of European Union values.

Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the law “a disgrace” and warned Hungary that the EU’s executive arm would use all its powers to uphold European law. .

“That family”

It was in the midst of this escalation in Hungarian politics that a local government fined the distributor of “What a Family”, a combined Hungarian translation of American author Lawrence Schimel’s books “Early One Morning” and “Bedtime, Not Playtime! ” – $ 830 (€ 700). Each of Schimel’s books describes the daily routines of a child, one with two mothers and one with two fathers.

The fine was imposed by the Pest County Government Office, the local authority responsible for the county surrounding the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

A Pest county official told commercial television station HirTV on Tuesday that the book’s Hungarian distributor, the Foundation for Rainbow Families, had violated the rules on unfair business practices by failing to clearly state “What a family!” it contained “content that deviates from the norm.”

“The book was there among other fairy tale books and therefore he committed a violation,” said Pest County Commissioner Richard Tarnai. “There is no way to know that this book is about a family other than a normal family.”

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the Foundation for Rainbow Families wrote that “rainbow families are normal, normal families,” a reference to families with LGBT parents.

“The storybook is about simple everyday events, and parental sexuality is not even an issue,” the foundation said.

Schimel, the author of the books that were translated into Hungarian, told The Associated Press in an email that requiring that books with content that deviate from the norm be tagged is “a pernicious concept, often used as a weapon to try to cultivate or justify prejudice and bigotry. “

‘They exist in the world’

“It is important for all children, not just those from same-sex families, to see these families reflected in the books, as they exist in the world,” Schimel wrote.

The Hungarian government argues that the law passed in June, which prohibits showing minors content in the media or school education programs that “represents or promotes homosexuality”, is necessary to protect children and allow children to parents sole control of their sex education.

But many of Hungary’s partners in the 27 EU members have criticized the law as discriminatory against LGBT people and demanded its repeal.

During a debate on Wednesday in the European Parliament, the five largest groups in the EU legislature voiced support for a joint resolution condemning the law and urged the EU executive arm to take action against the Hungarian government, including the withholding billions in COVID-19 economic recovery funds. destined for Hungary.

The vote on the resolution and a protest in Budapest against the law are scheduled for Thursday.

Speaking to the European Parliament, von der Leyen said the law equates homosexuality and gender reassignment with pornography, and “uses the protection of children … as an excuse to severely discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. “.

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