A bookshop chain in Hungary has been fined for selling a children’s picture book that depicts the day to day life of a child with same-sex parents, a number of the countries officials have also publicly condemned the book.
The book is a Hungarian translation of two titles by the US author Lawrence Schimel. In it we are shown a young boys morning routine with his two mothers and the night time escapades of a girl with two fathers who doesn’t want to go to bed.
According to Reuters the fine of 250,000 forints (£600) was imposed on the bookshop chain, Líra Könyv, by Pest county, the local authority for the area surrounding Budapest. According to the county commissioner, Richard Tarnai, the bookshop chain had violated the rules on unfair commercial practices by failing to disclose that the book contained what he called “content which deviates from the norm”.
“The book was there among other fairy-tale books and thus committed a violation,” Tarnai said. “There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family.”
The books author took to Twitter to accuse the Hungarian government of “trying to normalise hate and prejudice with these concerted attacks against books like mine … which represent for kids the plural and diverse world they live in.” He also spoke to the Guardian to say that the idea behind his books was to “celebrate queer families, to put more queer joy into the world, so that the only books available to children weren’t about conflicts”.
“In these stories, the fact that the parents are two mums or two dads is incidental to the story, as it is to the daily lives of children in rainbow families. These families don’t only experience homophobia, they also have fun,” he said.
Líra Könyv said in a Facebook post that it will now be putting up signs in its stores to warn shoppers that it sold “books with different content than traditional ones”.
“Rainbow families are completely normal, ordinary families,” the book’s Hungarian distributor, Foundation for Rainbow Families, said in its own statement. “These families haven’t had their own story book so far. That’s why we thought it was important to publish a fairytale book about them – and first of all for them.”
Despite what happened in Hungary Schimel has said that he is “more determined to keep trying to create books like these – books that respect the intelligence of children and offer the vast, complex world to them, in fun and accessible ways”.
These books will be published in the UK this autumn in both English and Welsh.