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Hungary’s second-largest book store finds itself caught up in legal troubles after selling LGBT-themed books

Lira, Hungary’s second-largest book store, is facing legal troubles after allegedly selling LGBT-themed British webcomics and graphic novels without closed wrapping. The books are targeted towards teenagers and depict a love story between two gay teens.

The story has gained popularity and was even adapted into a romantic comedy-drama by Netflix. However, a Budapest government office imposed a fine of 12 million forints ($36,000) on Lira, accusing the bookstore of violating Hungary’s LGBT law. Lira has vehemently denied these allegations and has expressed its intention to challenge the government in court.

Krisztian Nyary, the creative director of Lira, stated that the government used vague laws to charge the company, and the imposed fine was disproportionate. He mentioned that while the fine cannot be appealed, they will explore legal avenues to challenge it. Lira intends to utilize all available legal means in this battle.

In response to the controversial law in Hungary, some publishers have voluntarily decided to wrap their books in an effort to comply. However, it is unclear whether this measure alone is sufficient to classify the affected books as intended for adult readers. There is also uncertainty about whether LGBT-themed books targeted at adult audiences will also require wrapping or if they can be sold without packaging.

The lack of clarity surrounding these issues has led to confusion and uncertainty among publishers and booksellers in Hungary.

Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and his government have been actively promoting a Christian-conservative agenda. In 2021, they passed a law that prohibits the “display and promotion of homosexuality” to individuals under 18 years old. This legislation faced significant criticism from human rights organizations and the European Union.

Critics view the law as a political strategy to appeal to Orban’s conservative supporters in rural areas, particularly leading up to his successful re-election for a fourth term in 2022. In response, the European Commission referred Hungary to the EU Court of Justice, arguing that the law discriminates against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.


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