Harry Potter, 'Friends' may fall victim to Hungary's anti-LGBT law: broadcaster
By Marton Dunai – Euronews
BUDAPEST – The largest broadcasters in Hungary criticised a
new law banning the “display and promotion of homosexuality” among under-18s as
a threat to freedom of expression, and one said it could impact showings of
some Harry Potter films and classic TV shows.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist government pushed
the law through parliament on Tuesday despite criticism from rights groups and
the European Union, which said it could result in a loss of development funds
Orban and his ruling Fidesz party, which faces a tight
election race next April, have increasingly railed against LGBT+ people and
immigrants as part of their self-styled illiberal regime, which has deeply
German media giant RTL‘s Hungarian unit, the country’s top
broadcaster by audience, issued a statement saying it “condemned homophobia… We
worry that the bill gravely harms freedom of expression, human rights and basic
Other major broadcasters including HBO, SPI International
and A+E Networks joined RTL‘s statement. An RTL spokesman said it would come up
later with a strategy to deal with the new legislation.
The law says it aims to “defend the right of children to an
identity that conforms to their birth gender”, and bans content for minors that
“promotes or depicts gender change and homosexuality”. The same rules apply for
It has further highlighted a growing rift in the EU between
socially liberal western nations, where same-sex marriages are commonplace, and
more conservative ex-communist countries in the east. Staunchly Catholic Poland
has also clashed with Brussels over its stance on cultural issues including LGBT+
RTL said Hungary’s new law could provide grounds for banning
family favourites from from prime time TV because they touch on homosexuality
in some manner.
“Based on this, works like ‘Billy Elliott’, ‘Philadelphia’,
‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, or even some Harry Potter films would only be shown
late at night,” RTL said. “Series like ‘Modern Family’ would be banned, as
would some episodes of ‘Friends’.”
The law will cause significant harm to the media business
and makes it more difficult for all Hungarians to access certain kinds of
content, the broadcaster added.
The government and the Fidesz deputy who submitted the bill
did not reply to Reuters’ requests for comment on the possible impact of the
law on programming.
Other media companies said in the statement that they were
“stepping up together to support diversity and against discrimination of the
They did not say how they might change their programming.
In separate emailed comments to Reuters, HBO owner
WarnerMedia said: “We stand against all forms of homophobia, prejudice or
discrimination. The enduring power of all of our stories can open our eyes to
the world, to each other and to new and different perspectives.”
Viacom and A+E spokesmen did not immediately reply to
Reuters’ requests for comment. Global streaming giant Netflix, which did not
join the protest, did not respond immediately to a Reuters request for comment.
The Hungarian Association of Advertisers (MRSZ) also
criticised the new law.
“Excluding sexual minorities from mass media hinders
responsible and colourful portrayals of the world” in line with the values of
tolerance and acceptance,” it said in a statement.
RTL morning show anchor Mark Lakatos, who is openly gay,
accused Fidesz of hypocrisy and joked that he would now “lie every morning”
about being in love with a female colleague.
Critics have drawn a parallel between Hungary’s legislation
and Russia’s 2013 law that bans disseminating “propaganda on non-traditional
sexual relations” among young Russians.
In Turkey, radio and television watchdog RTUK assumed
sweeping oversight over online content two years ago, including streaming
platforms like Netflix and online news outlets, alarming rights groups who said
it could lead to greater censorship of LGBT+ content.
Hungary approves law
banning LGBTQ+ content for minors
Hungary has passed a new law that critics say conflates pedophilia with LGBTQ+ issues. Is the government trying to deflect attention from its failures and divide the opposition?. Andras Bozoki, a Hungarian political scientist at the Central European University (CEU) in Vienna told DW that the law clearly violates EU values and would probably ultimately be declared illegal by a European court. :