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The AP Interview: Hungary committed to contentious LGBT law

THE AP INTERVIEW: Hungary is becoming a haven for American conservative thinkers because of its approaches to migration and LGBT issues. But its partners in Europe aren’t too pleased. @jspikebudapest sits down with the foreign minister.

9/24/2021 8:32:00 AM

THE AP INTERVIEW: Hungary is becoming a haven for American conservative thinkers because of its approaches to migration and LGBT issues. But its partners in Europe aren’t too pleased. jspikebudapest sits down with the foreign minister.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The right-wing populist government in Hungary is attracting conservative thinkers from the United States who admire its approaches to migration, LGBT issues and national sovereignty — all matters that have put the country at odds with its Europe an partners, who see not a conservative haven but a worrying erosion of democratic institutions on multiple fronts.

In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly’s meeting of world leaders, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said his country would not cede ground on policies that have caused the European Union to impose financial penalties and start legal proceedings against it over violations of the bloc’s values.

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“We do not compromise on these issues because we are a sovereign country, a sovereign nation. And no one, not even the European Commission, should blackmail us regarding these policies,” Szijjarto said.ADVERTISEMENTTopping the list of contentious government policies: a controversial Hungarian law that the EU says violates the fundamental rights of LGBT people. That led the EU’s executive commission to delay billions in economic recovery funds earmarked for Hungary — a move Szijjarto called “a purely political decision” and “blackmail.” The law, he says, is meant to protect children from pedophiles and ”homosexual propaganda.”

“We will not make make compromises about the future of our children,” Szijjarto told the AP.The law, passed in June, makes it illegal to promote or portray sex reassignment or homosexuality to minors under 18 in media content. It also contains provisions that provide harsher penalties for pedophilia. Critics say it conflates pedophilia with homosexuality and stigmatizes sexual minorities. headtopics.com

The measures were rejected emphatically by most European leaders. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte suggested Hungary’s right-wing prime minister, Viktor Orban, should pull his country out of the EU if he is unwilling to abide by its collective principles.

The conflict is only the latest in a protracted fight with the bloc over what it sees as a sustained assault on democratic standards in Hungary — alleged corruption, a consolidation of the media and increasing political control over state institutions and the judiciary.

Last year, the EU adopted a regulation that links the payment of funds to its member states’ compliance with rule-of-law standards — a measure fiercely opposed by Hungary’s government, which argued it was a means to punish countries that break with the liberal consensus of Western Europe’s countries.

ADVERTISEMENTThe EU’s concerns over Hungary straying from democratic values have gone unheard by several prominent American conservatives who have recently visited the country and extolled Orban’s hardline policies on immigration and flouting of the EU’s rules. On Thursday, Hungary hosted former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at a conference in Budapest dedicated to family values and demography, both issues that form a central pillar of Hungary’s conservative policy. headtopics.com

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“One approach (to population decline) says that we should foster migratory flows toward Europe. This is an approach which we don’t like,” Szijjarto said.In addition to firm opposition to immigration, Hungary’s government emphasizes traditional family values and resistance to the widening acceptance of sexual minorities in Western countries. It also portrays itself as a beacon of “Christian democracy,” and a bulwark against migration from Muslim-majority countries — positions on which it finds common cause with the former vice president.

“We know that Vice President Pence is very committed to this issue ... with a strong Christian background, so that is the reason we invited him,” Szijjarto said.Despite Hungary’s position on immigration, it did evacuate more than 400 Afghan citizens who had assisted Hungarian forces in Afghanistan after that country’s government fell to the militant Taliban last month. But Szijjarto said his country was “not going to take any more Afghans,” and that no refugees would be allowed to cross Hungary’s southern border into the EU.

“We will not allow anybody to come illegally to Europe,” he told the AP.Pence’s visit to Hungary was only the latest in a series of anti-immigration right-wing Americans visiting Hungary, which its government increasingly portrays as a bastion of conservative values.

Tucker Carlson, the most popular host on the right-wing Fox News Channel, spent a week broadcasting from Budapest in August. While there, he heaped praise on Orban’s approach to immigration, family values and national sovereignty. Carlson also made a visit by helicopter to tour a fortified fence along the country’s southern border. headtopics.com

On Wednesday, the Hungarian state news agency reported that Budapest would host next year’s Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC, an annual gathering of primarily U.S. conservative activists and politicians.Hungary’s government, Szijjarto said, is “happy when American commentators come to Hungary. We are happy because when they come, they will see the reality.”

“United States press or media outlets usually characterize us as a dictatorship, as a place where it’s bad to stay, and they write all kinds of fake news about Hungary,” he said. “But when these commentators come over, they can be confronted with the reality.”

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But while some of Hungary’s admirers see it as a beacon, the EU’s financial pressure — designed to change Budapest’s behavior — represents increasing pushback from the other side of the political spectrum.Last week, Hungary sold several billion dollars in foreign currency bonds in an effort to cover the costs of planned development projects even if EU recovery funds are not released. This, along with economic growth, means Hungary’s budget is “in pretty good shape,” Szijjarto said, allowing for flexibility with the country’s central budget without the need for EU funds.

“Hungarian people should not be afraid of any kind of loss suffered because of this political decision by the European Commission,” Szijjarto said.With national elections next spring expected to be the biggest challenge to Orban’s power since he was elected in 2010, Hungary’s government is ramping up on divisive issues like migration, LGBT rights and the COVID-19 pandemic that can mobilize its conservative voting base.

On Thursday night, in his speech before world leaders at the United Nations, Szijjarto drew parallels between migration and the pandemic, saying the two together formed a “vicious circle” in which the health and economic impacts of the virus’s spread would lead more people to “hit the road.”

“The more people that are involved in the migratory flows, the more accelerated the virus will spread,” he told the U.N. assembly. “So nowadays, migration does not only constitute the already well-known cultural, civilizational or security-related risks, but very serious health care risks as well.”

Hungary’s law affecting LGBT people will be accompanied by a national referendum ahead of elections on the availability of gender-change procedures to children and on sexual education in schools. Szijjarto said the referendum will provide “strong argumentation in the debates” with the EU over the law, and a mandate from voters for the government to hold strong on its policies.

“The best munition a government can have during such a debate,” the minister said, “is the clear expression of the will of the people.”___Justin Spike, based in Budapest, covers Hungary for The Associated Press. He is on assignment this week at the United Nations. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jspikebudapest

Read more: The Associated Press »

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based Then leave the EU. Guess they don't need any money from anyone either... Right... Then you have Pence going over there and saying keep up the great work... 🙄🙄🙄 Next time you vote keep in mind that the Republicans want to turn the United States into another Hungary and vote blue! Then tell the EU to finance much needed projects in Hungary.

jspikebudapest 'Thinkers' is not the correct word choice. jspikebudapest Feed her and her family. Or get deported. jspikebudapest Fine....American conservatives should move to Hungary...I'm fine with that jspikebudapest American conservative thinkers? jspikebudapest Given what is transpiring with US border, foreign policy, and all around incompetence, this might be the craziest, most out of touch headline I’ve ever read. It’s like y’all all begging for trump.

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jspikebudapest All my experience happens to be total failure but i never gave up because i knew it was going to work out for me someday, fortunately am smiling today by getting involved with a manager I came across on a Tweet lisamiaBTC all I can say is she is the best of all. jspikebudapest Very generous with the use of the phrase 'conservative thinkers', especially when you find out that two of these thinkers are Tucker Carlson and Mike Pence.

jspikebudapest wow that sure is a whole lot of words for racist, homophobic, antisemitic, misogynist, christian white separatists the world over find their level in hungary jspikebudapest Why are conservatives so afraid of gay people? They are not going to disappear lol! Gay people will still be there after you pass this ridiculous and dangerous laws.

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The AP Interview: Top Pakistan diplomat details Taliban planUNITED NATIONS (AP) — Be realistic. Show patience. Engage. And above all, don't isolate. Those are the pillars of an approach emerging in Pakistan to deal with the fledgling government that is suddenly running the country next door once again — Afghanistan's resurgent, often-volatile Taliban. EdithLedererAP Maybe Pakistan shouldn't have helped the Taliban then. EdithLedererAP Smart. Sensible. Not perfect, but the best option EdithLedererAP Never trust him. Pakistan suddenly became friend with Afghanistan?! Where the hell was he a month ago? Pakistan use Afghanistan to save it's own economy. All low quality of Pakistan products are in Afghan markets. I can't believe Pakistan advocating on behalf of terrorist group.

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health | CDCDYK? People who identify as bisexual often don't get the health care they need due to disparities in access to health care. CelebrateBisexualityDay by taking charge of your identity and your health with tips & guidance from CDCgov: CDCgov none of that makes any sense. How would your doctor even know? Are you saying doctors and nurses discriminate? CDCgov I remember a time when dying AIDS patients were NOT allowed to see their partners in their last moments. Homophobic much? CDCgov Nope