The director general of the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest has been sacked for failing to implement a ministerial decision not to allow access to minors to an exhibition displaying LGBTQ photos, Hungary’s Minister for Culture and Innovation János Csák has announced.
“Today, Minister János Csák, in his capacity as the employer, handed over the termination document of László L. Simon, Director General of the Hungarian National Museum,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Explaining his decision, Csák wrote that the director general had failed to comply with the legal obligations expected of him, “had not complied with them even when called upon to do so, and had engaged in conduct that made it impossible to maintain his employment.”
Though the ministry’s statement did not go into detail, the issue at hand was one brought up last week by far-right opposition MP Dóra Dúró, who blamed the museum for allowing minors access to the World Press Photo exhibition which, among other images, contains depictions of LGBTQ scenes in Hungary.
In July 2021, Hungary passed a child protection law restricting the reach of LGBTQ propaganda, a move applauded at the time by conservatives but vehemently opposed by the European left.
Following Dúró’s comments, Minister Csák ordered the National Museum to restrict minors’ access to the exhibition. Although originally acknowledging the order, L. Simon later said in a statement he could not comply with the minister’s decision because the museum had no legal grounds to check visitors’ identities.
L. Simon said in a statement that he would comply with his superior’s decision but disagreed with it.
“This morning, Minister János Csák told me that he had relieved me from the position of director general of the Hungarian National Museum because he believed I had sabotaged the Child Protection Act. I take note of the decision, but I cannot accept it.
“By showing the pictures in the World Press Photo exhibition, the museum has not deliberately violated any law,” L Simon wrote. “As a father of four, as a grandparent, I firmly reject the idea that our children should be protected from me or from the institution I run.”
The World Press Photo exhibition came to a scheduled close on Nov. 5.