On July 8, this year in Hungary, the so-called Child Protection or Antipaedophile Law came into force, which, to the outrage of many, included the regulation of LGBTQ-related films, series, and programs in cinema and TV.
According to this law it is forbidden to broadcast or show content “promoting” homosexuality or transgenderism to children under 18. The National Media and Infocommunications Authority’s Media Council was still very much at a loss on this front in the summer, but new recommendations have now been made.
Several media outlets have reported that the Media Council has published a hefty document detailing when, under the Child Protection Act, it is appropriate or necessary to display a “not recommended for under 18 years old’s” sticker on content broadcast on television. Emphasis is of course placed on the fact that these are guidelines, not rules, the breach of which will necessarily lead to sanctions.
The text defines homosexuality as media content in which sexuality is portrayed for its own sake, in which non-cisgender sexuality or transgenderism (gender reassignment) is “propagated”. According to the Media Council, the classification of these programs as 18+ is justified because the “protected age group” is unable to interpret what they see or can only partially interpret it, and their worldview and identity may be damaged.
However, in general, the representation of homosexuality or transgenderism is not prohibited. According to the guidelines, attention should be paid to the relationship between the characters or persons appearing in the program and what the program has to say to the viewer. In this way, if homosexuality or transgenderism is a defining element of media content, or if it is presented as a model to be followed, the “Not recommended for under 18 years old’s” symbol is justified.
“The presentation of homosexuality and gender reassignment as a social norm, as a more attractive lifestyle to be followed than the traditional heterosexual lifestyle and propaganda activities on these topics in media content aimed at disseminating these ideologies and views, at influencing minors emotionally and at persuading them through communication, are considered as popularisation,” said the recommendations.
According to the Media Council, kissing, hugging, walking holding hands, etc., i.e. general gestures expressing tenderness, love, compassion, solidarity, are still included in the category(s) of “visible to all”, provided that they are not an essential part of the main subject of a film, series or show.
However, if they appear in a program that explicitly promotes or “seeks to make attractive” gender reassignment or homosexuality, then consideration should be given to whether they should be excluded from the 18+ category.
According to the Media Council‘s definitions, for the latter reason, for example, “It’s a Sin”, “Generation X”, recently axed by HBO, “Call Me by Your Name”, or “Queer As Folk” all promote homosexuality and are therefore not recommended for minors. On the other hand, let us add, it is possible, based on what we see in “Jungle Cruise”, for example, to have a homosexual side character in an adventure film that is not about sexuality.
There is also a more serious category than 18+, ‘Adults Only’, which is for programs that are explicitly harmful to the personal development of minors, but this includes explicitly violent or pornographic content.
So, in essence, a film or series broadcast on television should only be labeled 18+ if it has homosexuality or transgenderism as its central theme and, in addition, it presents them in a very positive light, as “cool”.