On February 12, 2022, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered his annual state of the nation speech in Budapest, where he kicked off his re-election campaign for 2023. Media coverage of the speech focused mainly on his promise to keep relations with Russia in a break with the EU over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Far less covered were Orban’s comments on Hungary’s controversial child protection law, which bans LGBTQ content from schools and media aimed at minors. Orbán justified the law by saying that there is no excuse for pedophilia, that children are sacred and inviolable and that it is the job of adults to protect children at all costs. He was referring to a recent scandal involving an LGBTQ activist teaching assistant who was openly bragging about having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old child.
The Prime Minister stressed that “we are not interested in the fact that the world has gone mad, we are not interested in the disgusting fads that some people indulge in, we are not interested in the excuses and explanations Brussels gives for the inexplicable.” He said that this is Hungary, and this is where the strictest child protection system in Europe must be. The Prime Minister said that the legislation is in place and the missing pieces will be found, but even the most determined government cannot succeed on its own. It will take everyone, parents, grandparents, mothers and fathers, teachers and educators, because “gender propaganda is not some silly messing about, not some rainbow babble, but the greatest threat to our children,” he stated. He stated that “we want our children to be left alone because enough is enough” and that such things have no place in Hungary, and especially not in our schools. “We are counting on all Hungarian people of good conscience so that we can do this job together once and for all in 2023,” he said.
Human rights groups and EU institutions have widely criticized the child protection law as discriminatory and violating international standards. The law introduces provisions into various acts that would establish administrative sanctions for licensed professionals or institutions that violate it, threatening the right to education and health information under international law.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has long been known for his desire to become the ideological center of a Global National Conservative (GNCA) alliance described in a GIOR report as follows:
Russian President Putin has expressed an interest in Russia becoming the ideological center of a new global conservative alliance, and European far-right leaders have taken pro-Russian positions based on a similar ideology. Hungary is at the center of a developing alliance between European far-right nationalists and American conservatives that Russia could potentially exploit for use in information warfare. This alliance operates under the rubric of “National Conservatism,” centered on national sovereignty, cultural identity, and opposition to global institutions and representing a potentially radical change for the US conservative movement away from long-held Reagan-era philosophies.
Read the full report here.
Opposition to “gender ideology” is a central issue for the GNCA and the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported in October 2022 on the role played by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), a Hungarian education facility supported by the Orban government, in disseminating Russian-style anti-LGBTQ propaganda.
We also reported in October 2022 that Putin had once again delivered a speech in which he extensively referenced so-called “culture war” themes commonly espoused by rightwing/conservative Western elements. In his remarks, Putin referred to “strange, in my opinion, newfangled trends like dozens of genders and gay pride parades.” In December 2022, we reported that Putin had signed into law the bill expanding a ban on so-called LGBTQ “propaganda” in Russia. GIOR first reported on the new legislation in early November 2022 when Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev told a Duma hearing that passing the law would be part of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.