MTV hosted its annual European Music Awards in Budapest, Hungary over the weekend, a controversial choice of locale because the country’s LGBTQ+ population is facing an attack on their rights under the leadership of Prime Minister Victor Orbán.
In December 2020, Budapest’s government voted through a ban on same-sex couples adopting children and, more recently, passed another law that prohibits the depiction of the lives of LGBTQ+ people under 18 (the latter of which led the European Commission to launch legal action).
This was the backdrop to the entertainment awards ceremony, and out actor and Years & Years singer Olly Alexander wasn’t going to let it go unnoticed. While presenting the award for “Best Video,” Alexander took the opportunity to tell the audience that all of the nominees “support same-sex adoption as family is family.”
This isn’t the first time that the It’s a Sin star has spoken up for the LGBTQ+ community. In October, the actor helped urge the British government to increase funding for HIV charities and advocacy groups. “I urge the government, do not miss this opportunity. Fund the fight and take the decisions required to end new cases of HIV by 2030,” Alexander said in a Terrence Higgins Trust promotional video.
As to why MTV opted to host its event in Hungary now, the decision was actually made two years prior. However, the network stood by its decision, saying in a statement that it was an opportunity to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.
Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of MTV Entertainment Group Worldwide, wrote in a memo to staffers: “We should move forward, using the show as an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary and around the world as we continue to fight for equality for all.”
Alexander wasn’t the only star to use the platform to do just that. Trans singer Kim Petras made history as the first trans star to perform at the awards ceremony. Rapper Saweetie made her LGBTQ+ allyship clear saying, “[It’s] always important we respect each other… that’s why it’s so important we stand up for the LGBTQ+ community.” And English singer Yungblood spoke out, taking home an award for “Best Alternative” while saying his win was a “tribute to individualism,” while revealing that he was terrified to be himself while growing up. “If you are out there and you feel you cannot be who you are – you can be,” he said. He also kissed one of his bandmates on-stage as a display of support for the LGBTQ+ community.