Budapest, Hungary – The Hungarian academic and activist Dorottya Rédai, who spearheaded the development of the children’s book A Fairy Tale for Everyone, has been named on TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2021 list.
“The LGBTI+ community in Hungary is one of the most popular targets for Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s hate crusades. Standing up to this takes a lot of courage,” writes German MEP Terry Reintke in Rédai’s TIME profile. “It means enduring smear campaigns in an already hostile societal environment of restricted press freedom and attacks on the rule of law and fundamental rights.”
“Dorottya Redai is a symbol of the courage needed in such an environment.”
In collaboration with fellow members of the Labrisz Lesbian Association and book editor Boldizsar Nagy, Dorottya Rédai spearheaded the development of the children’s book Wonderland Is for Everyone, which incorporates LGBTI+ characters into reimaginings of traditional fairy tales.
Published by Labrisz, an association for lesbian, bisexual and trans women, the book features a tale of a doe who is granted a wish to become a buck, and a poem about a prince who marries another prince. Other stories depict minorities in a positive light, including Roma and disabled people. The character Snow White, renamed Leaf Brown, has dark skin.
Dorottya Redai and the fight for LGBT rights in Hungary
The book was first put in the spotlight a year ago when the vice-president of the far-right political party Our Homeland Movement Dóra Dúró shredded a copy at a press conference.
“The Our Homeland Movement does not accept that children are being subjected to homosexual propagand. Homosexual princes are not part of Hungarian culture,” Dúró said as she tore out pages of the book.
The Hungarian government has since then ordered Labrisz to print disclaimers identifying books containing “behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles.” The same governmental decree also completely bans the sale of such books within 200 meters of schools or churches.
“The book is sold as a fairytale, called so on its cover and designed accordingly, but it hides the fact that it depicts behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles”, the government office in Budapest said in a statement.
In July, a bookshop chain was fined for selling a book depicting the life of a child with same-sex parents without a clear notice.
In May, Hungary voted to end legal recognition of trans people. Last year, the government amended the constitution to declare that in a family “the father is a man and the mother is a woman,” meaning that homosexual and trans couples could no longer adopt children.
An active member of Labrisz, Dorottya Rédai currently works as an independent scholar at CEU’s Center for Policy Studies. She previously worked as a tutor in gender studies at the Roma Access Programs of CEU and taught courses in gender and education at CEU and ELTE.
“There is hope”, concludes Terry Reintke. “And with people like Dorottya Redai and her colleagues at the forefront of the struggle for equality, we can continue to believe in a happy ending.”
Katalin Karikó, also on the list
Also on TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2021 list is Hungarian-born Katalin Karikó, who has been recognised for her work that laid the foundation for the Covid vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
“I, along with many millions around the world, am thankful that Katalin and her collaborators pursued ideas that led to a novel technology with the potential to transform future vaccines for infectious diseases as well as autoimmune and other disorders,” writes Nobel Prize–winning biochemist in Karikó’s TIME profile.
Katalin Karikó, who was also recently has been recognised as part of Emerging Europe’s latest awards programme, started synthesising RNA 40 years ago in Hungary, at the University of Szeged, before receiving an invitation to pursue her research at Philadelphia’s Temple University.