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Hungary bars under-18s from photo exhibit over LGBT+ content

Youngsters under the age of 18 have been barred from visiting this year's World Press Photo exhibition in Budapest after Hungary's right-wing populist government determined that some of its photos violate a contentious law restricting LGBTQ+ content.

The prestigious global photo exhibition, on display in Hungary's National Museum in Budapest, receives more than 4 million visitors from over 80 cities around the world every year.

Showcasing outstanding photojournalism, its mission is to bring visual coverage of a range of important events to a global audience.

But a set of five photos by Filipino photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales led a far-right Hungarian lawmaker to file a complaint with the country’s cultural ministry, which found that they violate a Hungarian law that prohibits the display of LGBTQ+ content to minors.

Now, even with parental consent, those under 18 are no longer allowed to visit the exhibition.

The photographs, which document a community of elderly LGBTQ+ people in the Philippines who have shared a home for decades and cared for each other as they age, depict some community members dressed in drag and wearing make-up.

Joumana El Zein Khoury, executive director of World Press Photo, called it worrisome that the photo series had been targeted by Hungary’s government.

“This is the first time that we face censorship for a certain type or a closing for a certain type of audience in Europe," Khoury told The Associated Press.

"(It) was really something new for us and I found it very sad, actually, and very worrisome," she added.

The move to bar young people from the exhibition was the latest by Hungary's government, led by nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, to restrict the availability of materials that promote — or depict — homosexuality to minors in media, including television, films, advertisements and literature.

While the government insists that the 2021 “child protection” law is designed to insulate children from what it calls sexual propaganda, it has prompted legal action from 15 countries in the European Union, with the bloc's Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calling it “a disgrace.”

Dora Duro, the far-right lawmaker who