The Hungarian State Opera has cancelled more than a dozen performances of heartwarming stage musical Billy Elliot after conservative commentators claimed the musical could lead to children becoming homosexual.
The company said in a statement that it wasn’t cancelling the performances because the claims had merit, but because the controversy surrounding the production had led to poor ticket sales, Out in Perth reported.
“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 independent news website 444.hu.
The musical is based on the 2000 film of the same name (pictured), which tells the story of the boy growing up in a English mining town who dismisses boxing and instead pursues his passion for ballet.
The controversy first began when a conservative commentator accused the opera company of spreading “rampant gay propaganda” through the show.
“How can such an important national institution as the opera go against the objectives of the state and use a performance made for young people around 10, at their most fragile age, for such pointed and unrestrained gay propaganda?” Zsofia N. Horvath asked in Hungarian newspaper Magyar Idok.
The writer argued that staging the musical in the country would lead to less babies being born if some children realised they were homosexual.
“Promoting homosexuality cannot be a national objective in a situation where the population is already aging and decreasing, and our nation is threatened by foreign invasion,” Horvath said.
The claims that the musical was “promoting homosexuality” came despite the Hungarian version’s producers removing prominent gay characters from the story.