Anti-LGBTQ activist Brian Brown’s love affair with authoritarian leaders has continued into the New Year, with Brown sending yet another email on Wednesday praising Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, this time for an article Orbán published at Christmastime about the importance of Christian culture to European identity. In this week’s note, Brown calls Orbán “one of the top pro-family leaders in the world” and praises his defense of “Christian values.”
This isn’t the first time Brown has gushed over Orbán. The World Congress of Families, which operates as a project of Brown’s International Organization for the Family, held its 2017 global summit in Budapest in May, with WCF praising Orbán for his “defense of family, life, and Christianity.”
Then and now, Brown and other WCF leaders have no apparent problems with Orbán’s attacks on the media, courts, civil society and other democratic checks and balances to his and his Fidesz party’s rule.
Hungarian Spectrum, a scholarly website, noted several days ago that the “government-organized” media in Hungary “is serving up Russian propaganda quite willingly.” It noted that InfoWars and other “internet news sites that practically specialize in fake news and conspiracy theories” are regularly quoted in pro-government media outlets.
In a 2016 book, scholar Bálint Magyar described Orbán’s Hungary as “The Post-Communist Mafia State.”
Last June, The Economist slammed Orbán’s “creeping authoritarianism” as “a direct challenge to the ‘fundamental values’ of the European project” and described Fidesz’s “reform” efforts as “the creation of a system in which the institutions of pluralism are hollowed out and the ruling party’s dominance is assured over the long term.”
In “Breaking Down Democracy: Goals, Strategies, and Methods of Modern Authoritarians,” a report published last summer, Freedom House wrote:
Today Mr Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends in Europe. His country is increasingly dominated by one party, his own. Elections may be free, but they are not fair. Mr Orban has rewritten the constitution, dismantled checks and balances (“a US invention” unsuited to Europe, he says), muzzled the press and empowered oligarchs. Refugees, who supposedly threaten Hungary’s Christian identity, are beaten by police and mauled by police dogs. Debates over values, Mr Orban thinks, “unnecessarily generate social problems”. He wants to fashion an “illiberal state” modelled on China, Russia and Turkey.
But over the same summer, Brown and his colleague Larry Jacobs were bragging about working hand-in-hand with Orbán to counter philanthropist George Soros and what Brown calls his assault on the “values of beauty, goodness and truth.”
Orbán is an ally of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and an admirer of President Donald Trump, who in turn calls Orbán “strong” and “brave.” Other American right-wing leaders have also praised Orbán, including anti-LGBTQ activist Scott Lively. Last month U.S. Rep Steve King praised Orbán’s struggle against “mixing cultures,” tweeting a link to an article published by the right-wing Voice of Europe and adding his own comment, “Diversity is not our strength.” Orbán has become a hero to white nationalists in the U.S. and around the world for his focus on his nation’s “biological survival” in the face of immigration.
And it appears that the mutual admiration society between the Orbán government and the U.S. Right will continue at a conference on “The Future of Europe” that will be held in Budapest on January 23-25. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is funding the conference which will “put our identity-creating cultural values in the limelight. Milo Yiannopoulos, discarded even by his former Breitbart colleague Steve Bannon after revelations by BuzzFeed that he had invited input and editing by neo-Nazi and white nationalist sources, is reportedly scheduled to be the opening day’s keynote speaker. Hungarian Spectrum identifies other far-right speakers from around the world who will be attending the conference. A writer for Hungarian Spectrum notes:
As time goes by, Viktor Orbán is becoming increasingly open about his far-right ideology and orientation. Looking over the participants of this conference, I find it hard to imagine a group further to the right, unless Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz will decide to invite white supremacists and neo-Nazis to their next international conference on the future of Europe.
American Religious Right groups have a sordid track record of working with the world’s most repressive regimes to defend “traditional” views on sex, gender and family and to prevent protections for the human rights of LGBTQ people from being recognized in international law and agreements.