Photo series featuring gays fenced off with black tape at Hungary's Museum of Ethnography

November 13. 2023. – 09:40 AM


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"This part of the exhibition is only open to visitors over 18 years of age" – a sign at the Budapest Museum of Ethnography warns visitors in both Hungarian and English, informing them that some of the images by Brazilian photographer Claudia Andujar are for adults only.

According to an article in Népszava, the portion of the exhibition entitled Indians. Souls. Survivors. where a series of photographs by Hungarian-Brazilian photographer and activist depicting the everyday life of homosexuals is on display has been cordoned off with black tape. According to the newspaper, only one of the photos from the series is actually on display, the others can be viewed on a projector. Incidentally, the focus of the exhibition is not homosexuality, but the daily lives of indigenous people living in the Brazilian jungle of Yanomami.

There is also a designated usher supervising the fenced-off area. When this portion of the exhibition was taped off is unclear. The museum's website now specifically notes that "Parts of the exhibition are only open to visitors over the age of 18." However, according to the history available on WebArchive, this text was not yet there on 26 October.

What makes this interesting is that the Director-General of the Hungarian National Museum, László L. Simon, was fired last Monday by János Csák, the Minister of Culture and Innovation, for not banning under-18s from the World Press Photo exhibition on account of three photographs showing tenants at a gay retirement home in the Philippines.

Far right Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) MP Dóra Dúró, had requested that the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, which maintains the museum conduct a judicial supervisory procedure because she believes that by displaying LGBTQ propaganda, i.e. photos of homosexuals, the museum's management violated the Child Protection Law. The ministry's investigation came to the same conclusion, and the museum's Director General, László L. Simon, was first ordered to introduce stricter admission rules and only allow people over 18 years of age to enter. Simon responded by saying that "the National Museum cannot legally enforce János Csák's request, as they are not entitled to ask for anyone's ID". The story ended with Simon's immediate dismissal. Speaking in Parliament after the decision, János Csák said that anyone who cannot enforce the law is not qualified to lead.

"While expecting Minister János Csák to demonstrate consistency would obviously be pointless, I suppose he's now going to start a purge there as well," Péter Ungár, co-chair of opposition party LMP wrote on Facebook after Simon's sacking, and shared the photo from the exhibition at the Ethnographic Museum, which has been cordoned off in recent days.

The text below the photo reveals that Claudia Andujar's photo series, shot in June 1967, had already been censored once. In an issue of Realidade magazine published 56 years ago, only one photo from the series was published with a short commentary.

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