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Hungarian bookshop fined for selling children's book about LGBTQ families

It comes as Hungary's "disgraceful" law banning positive LGBTQ content to under-18s comes into effect.

2021-07-08

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Twitter/@lawrenceschimel

A bookshop chain in Hungary has been fined for stocking a children's book that depicts same-sex parent families.

The news coincides with finalisation today of new legislation in Hungary outlawing positive LGBTQ representation to under-18s.

According to Reuters, the Líra Könyv shop chain has been fined 250,000 forints (£600) by the Pest county local authority.

County commissioner Richard Tarnai reportedly told TV station Hír TV the chain hadn't clearly indicated the book contained “content which deviates from the norm”.

“The book was there among other fairytale books and thus committed a violation,” Tarnai added. “There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family.”

The new law - labelled "disgraceful" by EU boss Ursula von der Leyen this week - is an update to an existing law protecting children from pedophiles.

"The fact that the parents are two mums or two dads is incidental to the story"

The book combines two different stories depicting straightforward domestic scenes: Early One Morning, about a young boy and his two mums, and Bedtime, Not Playtime!, about a girl and her two dads.

It was written by Spanish-American author Lawrence Schimel [below] with pictures by Latvian illustrator Elīna Brasliņa.

Schimel today told The Guardian that the books "celebrate queer families, to put more queer joy into the world, so that the only books available to children weren’t about conflicts."

He added: “In these stories, the fact that the parents are two mums or two dads is incidental to the story, as it is to the daily lives of children in rainbow families. These families don’t only experience homophobia, they also have fun.”

Schimel argued on Twitter that the Hungarian government is “trying to normalise hate and prejudice with these concerted attacks against books like mine … which represent for kids the plural and diverse world they live in.”

After EU figures this week threatened Hungary with sanctions over its new law, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán responded on his official Facebook page saying: "Whatever they do, we will not allow [LGBT+] activists into our children's kindergartens and schools."

The leader of the conservative Fidesz party added that Hungarian schooling is not a matter for "Brussels bureaucrats."