A bookshop in Hungary has been handed a hefty fine under the country’s controversial LGBT+ literature law after selling a British graphic novel without first wrapping it in closed packaging.
The bookseller- Lira Konyv – which is Hungary’s second-largest book store chain received a consumer protection fine of 12 million forints (£27,500) after authorities said it violated a contentious law that prohibits the depiction of homosexuality to minors.
The novel, Heartstopper by British author Alice Oseman, is a teen coming out story centered around teenage boys Charlie and Nick who meet at an all-boys Grammar school.
The novel had been placed in the shop’s youth literature section, and was not presented in closed packaging as required by the 2021 law.
The Budapest Metropolitan Government Office, which issued the fine, told state news agency MTI that it had conducted an investigation into the shop’s selling of the title.
They said: “The investigation found that the books in question depicted homosexuality, but they were nevertheless placed in the category of children’s books and youth literature, and were not distributed in closed packaging.”
They also said they had ordered Lira Konyv to ensure the lawful distribution of the book, adding that it “will always take strict action against companies that do not comply with the law”.
Hungary’s 2021 “child protection” law forbids the display of homosexual content to minors in media, including television, films, advertisements and literature.
The law also prohibits LGBT+ content in school education programmes and forbids the public display of products that depict or promote gender deviating from sex at birth.
Hungary’s government – led by prime minister Viktor Orban – says the law is part of an effort to protect the country’s children as well as its Christian culture.
However, it’s seen by critics of the country’s right-wing government as an attempt to stigmatise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In April, 15 countries of the European Union backed legal action against the law in the European Court of Justice, with the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, calling it “a disgrace”.
The popular Heartstopper series has also been adapted into a Netflix TV series, with the second series being released next month.
On Saturday, Budapest Pride march will take place, drawing thousands of LGBT+ people and their supporters in Hungary’s capital.
Sky News has contacted Alice Oseman’s publisher for comment.