Hungary’s government has issued film guidelines banning depictions of homosexuality and gender issues to those under 18.

Issued on 15 September by the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH), the guidelines say it is “not recommended” for those under the age of 18 to see movies if the aforementioned topics are a “defining feature” of them.

The guidelines read: “General gestures expressing tenderness, like a kiss on the cheeks, a hug, holding hands while walking, or a kiss cannot be considered problematic unless they are portrayed for their own sake or constitute a central element of the program.”

According to RFE/RL, films featuring these themes will now be given the same rating as gory horrors such as The Exorcist and Saw.

Hungary has been facing increasing scrutiny in recent months from the likes of the European Union due to new anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

As Viktor Orbán’s ruling party continues to curtail the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens, lawmakers in the country passed legislation on Tuesday (15 June) banning “content promoting gender change or homosexuality” within the school curriculum.

Human Rights Watch criticised the Russian-inspired “gay propaganda” 2013 law, citing it as an example of “increased…social hostility” toward gays in the country and as “a classic example of political homophobia.”

In June, Amnesty International’s Budapest office said Hungary’s law “will expose people already facing a hostile environment to even greater discrimination.”

The legislation was passed by 157 votes to just one in the National Assembly, despite leading human rights officials and activists in Europe criticising the bill as “an affront against the rights and identities of LGBTI persons”.

The ruling national-conservative Fidesz party was joined by the right-wing Jobbik party in overwhelmingly voting in favour of the new measure, while an independent lawmaker voted against it.

Leftist opposition parties boycotted the voting session in protest, while thousands of LGBTQ+ activists held a demonstration in Budapest on Monday (14 June) in an unsuccessful effort to prevent the new measure from being passed into law.

LGBTQ+ activists and human rights groups have condemned the legislature, seeing it as another opportunity for LGBTQ+ citizens to be harassed and discriminated against because of their sexual orientations and/or gender identities.

Budapest mayor Gergely Karacsony called it a “shameful day” and said “the opposition’s place is not in the parliament but on the streets.”