Children's books editor to leave Hungary over anti-LGBT+ law

by Hugo Greenhalgh | @hugo_greenhalgh | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 12 July 2021 14:27 GMT

Demonstrators protest against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the latest anti-LGBTQ law in Budapest, Hungary, June 14, 2021. REUTERS/Marton Monus

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Law that came into force last week, which has been condemned by the European Union, bans material that ‘promotes or depicts gender change and homosexuality’ to under-18s

(The seventh paragraph contains language that some readers might find offensive)

By Hugo Greenhalgh

LONDON, July 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A children's books editor from Hungary who has received death threats and homophobic abuse over his work said on Monday he would leave the country following the introduction of a law banning LGBT+ content in schools.

The law that came into force last week, which has been condemned by the European Union, bans material that "promotes or depicts gender change and homosexuality" to under-18s.

Critics say the legislation could fuel discrimination against LGBT+ Hungarians.

"I fear a little bit and that is why (myself and my partner) plan to leave the country," book editor Boldizsar Nagy M, who is gay, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"This is my life, but because things are getting very insecure here, I feel I should do this from another country," he said by phone.

Nagy, 38, said he had received death threats following the publication of two books he had edited, "Wonderland Is For Everyone" by numerous authors, and another containing two titles by U.S. science fiction and fantasy writer Lawrence Schimel.

"There was one man who said, 'You are not a man, you are just a faggot and you should die,'" Nagy said.

Last week, a Hungarian local authority fined bookshop chain Lira Konyv 250,000 forints ($835.95) for selling the Schimel book, which features same-sex parents and their children, under a law that bans unfair trade practices.

A local government official said the distributor had misled customers because the book had been placed in shops among other children's books without adequate signposting about its "different" content.

Nagy was involved in a similar controversy last year following the publication of "Wonderland Is For Everyone", a children's book that he said he hoped would help youngsters to learn to accept minorities and fight social ostracism.

Instead, it caused a stir in Hungarian politics, with far-right supporters and the ruling nationalist government labelling it "homosexual propaganda" that should be banned from schools.

Both books were designed to increase the representation of LGBT+ characters in children's literature, said Nagy, who now fears the Hungarian publishing industry will not dare to publish any books aimed at minors that include LGBT+ topics.

"It will kill literature here for a while," Nagy said. "There is a big insecurity and fear (about what will happen next) and we are very angry."

Literature has been his life, said Nagy, who also works as a journalist and translator. "As a child I was the first in my kindergarten to read. (Now,) I talk about books, I edit them and I translate them.

"I will continue this work. But I don't feel good in this country anymore," he added.

($1 = 299.0600 forints) (Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh; Editing by Helen Popper; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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