Billy Elliot is not tolerated by the homophobe Orbán regime in Budapest

Gay bashing seems to be the official policy in Hungary. The Orbán Government has no openly gay members and there are no gays in the ruling Fidesz party either. Orbán loyalists have no gay relatives, not even gay acquaintances.

Mr. Orbán’s cultural advisor Imre Kerényi wants to stop “the faggot lobby,” Budapest Mayor István Tarlós says that homosexuality as “unnatural and repulsive,” and Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén calls homosexuality “a deviance” and “an aberration.” The country’s new Constitution defines marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. According to Mr. Orbán, Hungary is a white Christian heterosexual society with no place for gays.

Hungarian State Opera planned to close this season with Billy Elliot, a play based on the Oscar-nominated 2000 movie. The story is about a working-class boy whose dream is to become a ballet star. The Hungarian production was presented with English subtitles and was to feature a sequence from Swan Lake, with dancers from the Hungarian National Ballet. Posters advertised the production and the Opera even published a promotional video. (Billy Elliot promotional video.)

Budapest Opera’s Billy Elliot poster.

On June 1, pro-government daily Magyar Idők published a letter condemning the musical. According to the writer the play promotes a gay lifestyle and encourages young boys to dance instead of playing soccer. (Read here in Hungarian.)

Opera director Mr. Ókovács first defended the production but after just one debut presentation he has cancelled the additional 15 shows. It seems that Orbán officials made it clear to him that the play’s “gay message” is inappropriate and the show must close. Ókovács is an Orbán appointee and dutifully follows party directions. His explanation is that after negative publicity ticket sales has dropped, and he was forced to cancel. Few believe his story.

Orbán doesn’t hide his anti-gay attitudes and whenever possible he avoids meeting gay politicians. Sometimes this is impossible which may lead to awkward moments. Orbán was visibly uncomfortable during the February visit of Serbia’s Prime Minister, Ms. Ana Brnabić.

Homophobe Viktor Orbán was visibly uncomfortable during the February visit of Serbia’s Prime Minister, Ms. Ana Brnabić.

In October of 2018 the Hungarian State Opera is coming to the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City. Three hundred and fifty singers and dancers will perform over the two weeks between October 30 and November 11. Authoritarian Orbán wants to show to American audiences that Hungary loves culture and is presentable in New York City.

I encourage New Yorkers to boycott the Hungarian State Opera presentations. In the past the Opera was an independent institution; today it has become a propaganda tool of Hungary’s right-wing “Viktatorship.”

György Lázár

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