Declaration of the Society of Hungarian Authors
The Hungarian Parliament has recently discussed and adopted the proposal on „Stricter action against paedophile offenders and the amendment of certain laws for the protection of children“, the following passage of which has become the most known and controversial: „For the purposes of this Act and to ensure the rights of the child, it is prohibited to make pornographic content available to children under the age of eighteen, as well as content that depicts sexuality in an autotelic way, or promotes or displays gender non-conformity, gender reassignment or homosexuality.”
You do not need to be a legal scholar or a linguist to see, from the title alone and then in detail in the text of the law itself, how it attempts to confuse the case and the need for stronger, necessary action by the authorities against paedophilia with drastic restrictions on freedom of expression and artistic freedom and fundamental human rights. For political purposes, it deliberately juxtaposes, distorts, and obscures things that do not belong together. After all, representation is no more the same as promotion than homosexuality and paedophilia. The right-wing and fascism. The left and the communist. The Hungarian person and the supporters of the governing party (and vice versa). The refugee and the terrorist. Public money and private property. Information and propaganda. The government and masterfulness. The list goes on and on.
If we interpret the law literally, and we can do no other, it is clear that, on this basis, an important part of world literature, other arts and, in essence, universal culture is being removed from public education and relegated to the late-night time slot in the media. Among them, the works of many of our fellow writers may not be graduation subjects in the future. The Hungarian Government has thus forced through parliament a completely pointless, slipshod and predictably unenforceable law, which could hardly have had any other purpose than: 1. to kick-start the election campaign; 2. to break up the opposition coalition; 3. to violate the human dignity and make impossible the lives of various groups of its citizens for petty power-political ends. And not least, as an incidental success, to take another decisive step towards the broadest possible restriction of freedom of expression and artistic expression.
The Society of Hungarian Authors protests against the restriction of fundamental freedoms, the divisive and harmful policies of the Hungarian government, and the introduction and enforcement of the law. At the same time, if the government’s plan is indeed to protect Hungarian youth, who are raised on today’s mass media platforms, who consider the free choice and consumption of different content as a fundamental principle, and who are otherwise open, sensitive, enlightened and informed, from themselves, without asking, well, we wish them good luck with that.
We fear, however, that this was not the idea. In that case, the situation is much more serious than the text of a law would suggest. We have reached what is likely to be a memorable point in historical descent, where every responsible Hungarian citizen has a duty to resist.
The Board of the Society of Hungarian Authors