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Friends and Harry Potter could be banned for ‘promoting homosexuality’ under draconian Hungarian bill

Lily Wakefield June 16, 2021
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thousands protest outside Hungary's parliament against a bill which has now passed, banning the mention of LGBT+ people in schools

On 14 June, 2021, thousands protested outside Hungary's parliament against a bill which has now passed, banning the mention of LGBT+ people in schools and in the media. (AFP via Getty/ GERGELY BESENYEI)

Friends and Harry Potter could be banned in Hungary for “promoting homosexuality” under the country’s new anti-LGBT+ law.

On Tuesday (15 June), lawmakers in Hungary’s National Assembly passed a bill that makes it illegal to depict or discuss different gender identities and sexual orientations in schools, establishes a government-approved list of organisations which are allowed to provide sex education in schools and bans any LGBT+ content in advertising or media which could be seen by minors.

But the Hungarian unit of German media company RTL, which is the country’s top broadcaster, has said the bill “gravely harms freedom of expression, human rights and basic freedoms”, according to Reuters.

In a statement, RTL said the new legislation could ban any popular show or film that even vaguely touches on LGBT+ issues from being shown on prime time TV.

It continued: “Based on this, works like Billy Elliott, Philadelphia, Bridget Jones’ Diary, or even some Harry Potter films would only be shown late at night.

“Series like Modern Family would be banned, as would some episodes of Friends.”

Other major broadcasters in Hungary have joined RTL’s statement “condemning homophobia”, including HBO, SPI International and A+E Networks.

In a separate statement 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.”

This week, EU equality chief Helena Dalli said that Hungary could face funding restrictions over its new legislation banning the “promotion” of homosexuality.

She told Openly that the European Commission could impose similar sanctions to those handed to Polish towns that declared themselves “LGBT-free zones” last year.

Dalli said: “The message is that if you don’t uphold the values of democracy or equality of the European Union, you are not entitled to take money for your project.”

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