Hungary orders LGBT publisher to print disclaimers on children's book

Sian Cain and Reuters
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

Hungary’s government, which has made hostility to LGBT people a central part of its rightwing agenda, on Tuesday ordered a publisher to print disclaimers identifying books containing “behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles”.

The government said the action was needed to protect consumers, after Labrisz, an association for lesbian, bisexual and trans women, published a fairytale anthology titled Wonderland Is for Everyone, which included some stories with LGBT themes.

The book, whose authors say it is intended to teach children to be respectful of people of all backgrounds, features a tale of a doe who is granted a wish to become a buck, and a poem about a prince who marries another prince. Other stories depict minorities in a positive light, including Roma and disabled people. The character Snow White, renamed Leaf Brown, has dark skin.

“The book is sold as a fairytale, called so on its cover and designed accordingly, but it hides the fact that it depicts behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles,” the government office in Budapest said in a statement.

The order requires Labrisz to put disclaimers on all its books with such content, including Wonderland Is for Everyone.

Related: Hungarian government mounts new assault on LGBT rights

The book was first put in the spotlight in September when a member of the far-right political party Our Homeland Movement shredded a copy at a press conference. Hungary’s nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban, whose rightwing Fidesz party has adopted increasingly hostile rhetoric and policies towards LGBT groups, called the book “homosexual propaganda” last year.

Labrisz – alongside Hatter, an allied gay rights group – said it would sue the government over the disclaimer requirement, which it called discriminatory and unconstitutional.

In May, Hungary voted to end legal recognition of trans people. In November, the government amended the constitution to declare that in a family “the father is a man and the mother is a woman”, meaning that homosexual and trans couples could no longer adopt children.

Orban’s homophobic politics suffered a setback in November when József Szájer, member of Fidesz and a senior MEP, was caught fleeing a gay orgy in Brussels, in violation of pandemic restrictions and in possession of drugs. Szájer resigned from Fidesz in December.