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Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orban has demanded gay people “leave our children alone” amid a manufactured moral panic over a storybook featuring LGBT+ characters.
The notoriously anti-LGBT+ leader joined attacks on fairy-tale collection Storyland is for Everyone, published by Labrisz Lesbian Association, which reimagines classic tales with characters from diverse backgrounds.
The book’s characters include people with disabilities, the elderly, the poor and people from minority ethnic backgrounds – and while the overwhelming majority of the stories have no references to LGBT+ rights, the far-right in the country have seized upon the handful that do, including one that depicts Cinderella as a lesbian love story.
Viktor Orban fuels moral panic targeting LGBT-inclusive storybook.
Meanwhile Dóra Dúró, an MP in the far-right Our Homeland movement, staged a press conference where she publicly tore a copy of the book up page-by-page and fed it through a shredder.
Speaking in a radio interview on Sunday, Orban surprised no one by siding with the homophobes.
According to AFP, he said: “Hungary has laws pertaining to homosexuality, the basis of which is an exceptionally tolerant and patient approach. But there is a red line that you cannot cross.”
Describing the book as a “provocative act” from the gay community, he warned: “Leave our children alone.”
Attacks on book likened to Nazi and Communist censorship.
Prior to Orban’s intervention, the Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers’ Association has decried the attacks on the book, comparing it to acts of censorship under Nazi and Communist rule.
As Hungary Today reports, the body stressed that “destruction of books to serve political purposes is one of the most shameful historical memories in Hungary and Europe.”
The body added: “It isn’t a simple expression of opinion, but a communion with the legacy of Nazi bookburners and Communist book shreds. Get your hands off the books!”
The Labrisz Lesbian Association says that attempts to censor the book have had “the opposite effect,” with the first run selling out entirely, requiring a second edition.
Children’s bookshop Pagony, which has faced demands to pull down copies of the book, has refused to do so.
The bookshop said: “We believe that all people are equal and everyone deserves equal treatment. We stand by this principle at all times and reject all inciting, hateful content and manifestations.
“We do not enforce worldview, ideological considerations when deciding what book to sell. We believe that our customers are able to make responsible decisions about what they consider important, desirable, and affordable for their children when they choose from the offerings of our stores.”
Orban is one of Europe’s most anti-LGBT+ leaders, passing a law earlier this year that effectively abolished the legal recognition of transgender people, while his Fidesz party has launched repeated attacks on the gay community.