The following statement was issued by Secretary General Gerald Leitner, on behalf of IFLA on 25 August 2021.
IFLA has followed closely recent legislative developments in Hungary, and in particular the provisions passed in June which prohibit the portrayal of homosexuality or gender reassignment in children’s books.
As has been noted by commentators, the breadth of the law creates the possibility that libraries, in providing access to books for young users, are covered by these provisions. As such, this raises significant questions about the ability and responsibility of libraries to fulfil their mission to provide access to information for all.
IFLA stands by its Statement on Intellectual Freedom (1999), which underlines that library collections shall reflect the plurality and diversity of society, and that selection and availability of materials should be governed by professional considerations and not by political, moral and religious views.
In parallel, IFLA also underlines the message of the IFLA-UNESCO Public Library Manifesto (1994), which stresses the need to provide information to all, reflecting their needs, and evolutions in society. It also emphasises that ‘collections and services should not be subject to any form of ideological, political or religious censorship, nor commercial pressures’.
The IFLA-UNESCO School Library Manifesto underlines these same points, in connection with the development of children.
In the light of this, IFLA stresses that libraries should not face rules that prevent or hinder them from giving access to works which reflect the experience of any part of the communities they serve – including LGBTQ+ users and their families – or pressure to do so. This includes measures that make it harder for readers – in particular young readers – to find works, or the use of marks or other signs that stigmatise their use of such works.
Such steps limit the ability of library and information professionals to make their own judgements, based on professionalism and an understanding of the needs of users, in order to support the development of all members of their communities.
In parallel, IFLA also voices its support for publishers, authors and booksellers who have fallen foul of these new provisions, and calls for an end to similar restrictions elsewhere.
IFLA Secretary General 25 August 2021
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