By Krisztina Than
BUDAPEST, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Hungary's nationalist government on Thursday condemned a book of modern fairy tales for children published by a lesbian group as "homosexual propaganda" and said it should be banned.
The book "Wonderland Is For Everyone", was published last month by the Labrisz Lesbian Association, and has sparked a public debate in Hungary, where signs of official intolerance of LGBT+ people are increasingly emerging.
A politician from the far-right fringe Our Homeland party tore the book apart and shredded it at a press conference and called it homosexual propaganda. Asked about the book at a press briefing, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's cabinet chief also called it "homosexual propaganda".
"Sexual identity is a private matter but there is a threshold ... namely that homosexual propaganda should not be directed at children," Gergely Gulyas said, adding this amounted to endangering minors.
Dorottya Redai, a project leader with the publisher responded: "We reject the unfounded accusations that we would be causing harm to children." The politician's remarks amounted to "hate propaganda" she added.
In power since 2010, Orban has promised to "build a new era" with major cultural changes in Hungary. His government has so far refrained from strong attacks on the LGBT+ community, unlike Poland, where homophobia has been part of the ruling PiS party's ideology and election strategy.
However parliament, with the ruling party's majority, voted in May to ban transgender people from changing their gender on identity documents.
Bulcsu Hunyadi, an analyst at think tank Political Capital said the government seized on the book to prevent the far-right dominating the agenda, but was unlikely to step up its anti-LGBT stance to the extent seen in Poland ahead of the 2022 parliamentary elections.
"Hungarian society is a lot more secular and more accepting towards LGBT people (than Polish society)," he said. "This today ... could be followed with some policy moves but I don't think Fidesz will build a big campaign around the issue."
The first 1,500 copies of the book, which contains 17 stories with characters from various social backgrounds, sold out quickly.
The Hungarian Publishers' and Booksellers Association said several bookshops had been threatened and become the target of hate mongering. "Leave the bookshops alone," it said, rejecting condemnation of the book.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than Editing by Alexandra Hudson)