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Conservatives give Hungarian strongman a standing ovation for opposition to LGBTQ rights

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán Photo: Shutterstock

Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister Viktor Orbán delivered an anti-LGBTQ speech in Dallas on Thursday, receiving a standing ovation from conservatives.

The dictator kicked off the Conservative Political Action Conference’s (CPAC) annual gathering with an address attacking same-sex marriage and same-sex families, and alluding to the false “groomer” narrative that has recently proliferated on the American right.

“Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as a union of one man and one woman,” Orbán said. “Family ties shall be based on marriage or the relationship between parents and children. To sum up, the mother is a woman. The father is a man. And leave our kids alone. Full stop. End of discussion.”

Orbán’s appearance at CPAC’s annual conference followed widespread criticism of a speech he gave in Hungary last week in which he decried Europe becoming a “mixed race” society.

“We do not want to become peoples of mixed race,” Orbán said in the speech, which one close aide described as “pure Nazi text,” resigning in protest.

Orbán has become a darling of the American right recently, thanks in part to close ties to former president Donald Trump and Fox News personality Tucker Carlson. Orbán endorsed Trump’s 2016 presidential run, celebrated Trump’s win, and then supported Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. Trump later invited Orbán to the White House in May 2019 and endorsed the prime minister’s reelection earlier this year. Last year, Carlson broadcast a full week’s worth of his primetime show from Budapest, sitting down for a one-on-one interview with Orbán and later releasing a “documentary” portraying Hungary as a conservative paradise.

CPAC held a previous conference in Budapest earlier this year.

“There has been a democratic backsliding in Hungary for looking at press freedom, for looking at LGBTQ rights,” Hungarian journalist Flora Garamvolgyi, who covers Orbán’s ties to U.S. conservatives, told NPR this week. “And I don’t think that aligns with American values, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”

Since taking power in 2010, Orbán has banned marriage equality in the Hungarian constitution. The constitution was also changed to define a family as a married man and woman. Same-sex couples cannot adopt. Parliament passed a law banning trans people from changing their birth gender. Then there was Hungary’s “anti-pedophilia” law, which banned mention of gay people in schools or in TV.

“He’s fighting for an old white world or old white Europe where, you know, men were men and women were women,” Aron Demeter, program director for Amnesty International in Hungary, told NPR this week. “And there were no transgender people or gay people. Or if there were gay people they stayed at home.”

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