On May 4 and 5, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Hungary will be holding another conference. The speakers list is out, and headlining the event is Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán, who with his anti-LGBTQ+ and other bigoted crusades has turned Hungary into an illiberal democracy that has been cut off from European Union funds as a result. Just before speaking at CPAC Texas last summer, Orbán touted the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, saying that Hungary should not become a “mixed race” country. Given who is on deck this week, the event seems likely to be filled with bigotry, especially against the LGBTQ+ community.
CPAC events are known to be gatherings of far-right and extreme politicians, and the upcoming conference in Hungary is no different. The online speakers list features quite a few American far-right figures, including failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate and election denier Kari Lake, former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Pennsylvania senator and notorious anti-LGBTQ activist Rick Santorum, and a notorious conspiracy theorist with white supremacist ties, Jack Posobiec. Also on the agenda are former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, who is rabidly anti-LGBTQ+. The former president’s regime was notable for attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and Indigenous people. Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili is also slated to speak. The pro-Orbán think tank, Center for Fundamental Rights, a co-organiser of the event, praised the Georgian Prime Minister’s stance against LGBTQ+ rights. And then there is rabidly anti-immigrant former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, a close ally of Orbán.
The conference is the latest of several that CPAC has held overseas as it continues to build its international network. CPAC has held conferences in Japan, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, and Israel, as well as national and state-level conferences in the US. These events, which have become increasingly radical in recent years, feature Trump allies and strongmen like Orbán, as well as those touting white supremacist ideas like the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory and who target certain communities, in particular LGBTQ+ people.
And these conferences are having an effect and causing harm. As Pamela Shiffman wrote in The Hill today, American far-right figures are taking a playbook from figures like Orbán. “News coming out of Florida has clear echoes in Budapest and Warsaw. Just this month, Florida’s Board of Education approved a proposal to forbid classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades, a dramatic expansion of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” ban that originally applied only to kindergarten through the third grade. In 2021, Hungary’s parliament passed a law banning gay people from being featured in school educational materials or on television shows for kids under 18. For the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, demonization of LGBTQ+ communities is a key ingredient in his nationalistic vision of Hungary as the last holdout against godless, western liberals.” Events like CPAC are yet another example of the transnational nature of extremist movements that further deepen relationships among far-right actors waging campaigns against our democracies and targeted communities across the world.
photo: Elekes Andor, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons