Billy Elliot forced to scrap dates in Budapest following press hate campaign claiming it will turn kids gay
The Hungarian National Opera in Budapest has been forced to cancel 15 performances of the musical Billy Elliot, blaming an intense hate campaign from the local media.
Daily newspaper Magyor Idok ran a series of stories claiming that the show could “transform Hungarian boys into homosexuals”, and another article said it promoted a “deviant way of life”.
Szilveszter Okovacs, director of the Hungary National Opera, told Hungarian site 444.hu: ”As you know, the negative campaign in recent weeks against the Billy Elliot production led to a big drop in ticket sales and for this reason we are cancelling 15 performances in line with the decision of our management.”
The show will still play 24 other dates in the city, including one that is sold out, with 444.hu saying that political pressure more than ticket sales had driven opera bosses to this.
In another article, the paper who supports right-wing populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said: “The propagation of homosexuality cannot be a national goal when the population is getting older and smaller and our country is threatened by invasion”.
Okovacs had replied to the article and highlighted that the only gay character from the original script, Billy’s friend Michael, was not in the production.
Tensions are high in the city, and in recent days the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has been the target of another right-wing paper called Figyelo, which earlier this week published a list of researchers at the academy, accusing them of working on “gay rights and gender science”.
The musical is based on the 2000 film starring Jamie Bell and Julie Walters.
It tells the story of a working-class boy growing up in a mining town who wants to become a ballet dancer.
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