Czech officials condemn Hungarian fine for LGBTQ+ book

The Czech Republic's Interior Minister and Human Rights Commissioner are among those who have spoken out about the controversial stance in Hungary. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 15.07.2023 14:55:00 (updated on 15.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic's Government Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková and Interior Minister Vít Rakušan are among those who have spoken out against the recent fine for selling a LGBTQ+ romance book in Hungary, based on a law banning the presentation of homosexuality to children.

Šimáčková Laurenčíková said both the law and the resulting fine were examples of the restriction of human rights in Hungary.

The Hungarian bookstore chain Líra könyv was fined 12 million forints, equivalent to CZK 763,000, by authorities for selling the book Heartstopper because it was placed in the category for children and adolescents and had an uncensored cover.

The fine was imposed for violating a 2021 law that bans the display of LGBTQ+ content in media accessible to minors under 18.

"Hungary's discriminatory anti-LGBT law and its consequences, which include a [large] fine for selling the book Heartstopper, is an example of human rights restrictions, and in a country not too far from us," Šimáčková Laurenčíková tweeted today. "Equality and human rights belong to everyone and must be protected."

In his statement, Rakušan expressed surprise at Hungarian regulations ordering an opaque cover for a book showing two boys holding hands.

"They say it is not 'normal' enough," Rakušan said in a tweet. "I rather find it abnormal to make love between two boys in the 21st century taboo."

Pirate MP Klára Kocmanová pointed out that her party had supported an initiative for the Czech Republic to join 15 other countries that supported the European Commission's legal action against Hungary. "It is a pity that there was not enough support in the government in the end," she tweeted.

The Hungarian government argues that the law banning the presentation of homosexuality increases protection for children. Critics, however, say it is a step against sexual minorities.

Fifteen EU member states supported legal action against the Hungarian law to be brought to the EU Court of Justice in April. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the law "shameful."

Heartstopper is a graphic novel by British author Alice Oseman about two gay teenagers and their friend group. The book was also adapted for television by the streaming service Netflix.

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