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Billy Elliot cancelled in Budapest

Following an article in an Orban-supporting newspaper claiming that the show could cause homosexuality, fifteen performances of Billy Elliot have been cancelled by the Hungarian State Opera House.

“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 director-general of the opera house, Szilveszter Ókovács, told the independent Hungarian website 444.hu.

It would be bad enough if this kind of illiberal journalism were simply hitting ticket sales – and I assume that’s a factor behind the decision. But the cancellation may also reflect a wider fear about the consequences of ignoring even an indirect message from Orban’s government.