On Monday, Minister of Culture and Innovation János Csák terminated the employment to László L. Simon, the Director General of the Hungarian National Museum as of immediate effect. According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, the director general had failed to comply with legal obligations binding to the institution and then did not substantively address requests to do so. The statement said that L. Simon’s conduct warranted the termination of his employment.
The statement added that the Ministry of Culture and Innovation acknowledges L. Simon’s previous contributions to the Hungarian cultural sector.
Responding to his dismissal, L. Simon László told MTI: ‘I take note of the decision, but I cannot accept it. Presenting the images of the World Press Photo exhibition did not intentionally violate any laws by the museum.’ In his statement, the dismissed director general noted that the Minister of Culture and Innovation removed him from his position on Monday morning, claiming that he had sabotaged the child protection law. L. Simon recalled that the ministry had previously acknowledged in one of its letters that there were no circumstances indicating intentional legal violations by the Hungarian National Museum.
The World Press Photo Exhibit Controversy
In October, the radical right-wing party Our Homeland Movement (Mi Hazánk Mozgalom) held a press conference in parliament addressing the issue of ‘LGBTQ propaganda in the Hungarian National Museum.’ During the conference, Co-Chair of the party, Deputy House Speaker Dóra Dúró criticized certain images from the World Press Photo (WPP) exhibition, considering them to be harmful to children. She also raised objections to the exhibition’s focus on a case in Kenya, where a 25-year-old non-binary lesbian was raped and murdered, highlighting it as one of the significant events of the past year. Dúró announced her intention to propose an amendment to the law and appeal to the Minister of Culture regarding the events at the National Museum.
The photo series that Dóra Dúró found concerning was created by Hannah Reyes Morales and is titled ‘The Gay Old People’s Home.’ It portrays the residents of an elderly LGBTQI+ community in the Philippines known as the Golden Gays, who have been living together and supporting one another for many years in a country where they face discrimination, prejudice, and added challenges due to their age and socio-economic status.
Dúró essentially demanded that the National Museum makes sure minors that minors do not view the exhibit, to which then director general L. Simon reacted on Facebook, in a sarcastic post, thanking the Mi Hazánk MP for generating publicity for the exhibit and the museum, and stating that the Museum staff has no authority to ask for people’s IDs to check their age.
What Does the Child Protection Act Say?
Hungary’s Child Protection Act specifically prohibits the presentation of materials that may be interpreted as promoting gender-related content to underage audiences. Such documents must be clearly labelled, and access for younger viewers is allowed only with parental consent.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/KIM/MTI