Hungarian Conservative

‘Hungary Should Break the Current EU Consensus on Moral Issues’ — An Interview with Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse is the president of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam).
Dávid Vaszkó/Hungarian Conservative
Hungary should assert its national sovereignty and resist the imposition of global norms on aggressive sexual progressivism through UN documents, Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) argues.

Austin Ruse is president of C-Fam, the Center for Family and Human Rights, a New York and Washington DC-based research institute in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council. C-Fam has participated in hundreds of UN negotiations since its founding in 1997. Austin Ruse is a bi-weekly columnist for Crisis Magazine and the author of four books, including his most recent, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic.

What is the purpose of your stay here, and what are your impressions of Hungary?

Well, I have been to Budapest before and I was actually shocked the first time I came that I found it as beautiful or even more beautiful than Vienna. I did not know that. I was unprepared. So, I’m here with my family because I want them to see Budapest. We were in Vienna and Salzburg for several days, trying to show our daughters all the cities that we love. We have been to Rome, Paris, to Edinburgh. So, this time it is Vienna and Budapest.

But this time it is not only about sightseeing I suppose…

Indeed. I asked Melissa and John if they would arrange a platform for me at Danube Institute because we are in a multi-month process of encouraging the Hungarian government to take a stronger position on what John O’Sullivan calls the ‘moral issues’ at the U.N. I am talking about abortion, marriage, family, so on and so forth. And so, I have a talk that I will be giving this evening on that topic. (Editor’s note: Mr Ruse gave his talk on 27 June.) You know we have my organisation called C-FAM.

We come as friends—as dear friends as a matter of fact—to encourage the Hungarian government to take a slightly stronger stand on some of these issues at the UN.

Would you elaborate on that?

Well, you know, among the most debated issues at the United Nations are reproductive health, reproductive rights, sexual rights, the family, and all of the issues that are related to that. The agenda of the sexual Left is to impose the sexual revolution on the whole world through UN documents. And so, our work at C-FAM since its foundation in 1997 has been to block the sexual Left in UN documents. We don’t work on the ground around the world; instead, we work strictly at the United Nations on documents. So, we work on blocking their notion of sexual and reproductive rights, sexual and reproductive health, sexual orientation and gender identity—the whole gender ideology. And we have always been able to put together a coalition large enough to block these efforts to create international law on these issues. But sadly, Hungary has rarely helped us—it seems that the Hungarian government comes to a common position with the European Union and then, stays there. And we think that Hungary ought not to do that. So, we have been in dialogue with the Hungarian government here, also with the Hungarian delegation in New York encouraging them to break the EU consensus. Just to say ‘we are not going to go along with these things’. Do you know the term ‘fraternal correction’?

PHOTO: Dávid Vaszkó/Hungarian Conservative

Please explain.

Fraternal correction is something in Catholicism when you go to your brother and you correct something that he has been doing. And you are doing this with love. So, I’m here to offer a very loving fraternal correction to our friends in the Hungarian government.

Are you aware of the conservative outcomes of policymaking of the past 12 years here in Hungary?

Oh yes. We recognise that Hungary—domestically—has been quite good, including in issues that should not be controversial at all. I am talking about for example blocking sexual propaganda from reaching school children. So,

we are very aware and we applaud the domestic policies of the Hungarian government.

Absolutely. We have defended them; we have promoted them. Our only complaint is the positions that the Hungarian government does not take at the UN. That’s all. You know one of the reasons that we are making this argument in public is that the Hungarian government spends a tremendous amount of time talking to American conservatives about all the wonderful things the Hungarian government is doing. What American conservatives are surprised about is when they find out that the Hungarian government goes along with France, Germany and the UK on sexual issues at the UN. All of this may come as a surprise to American conservatives—like us—who have been charmed by the Orbán administration’s policy over the past years.

Before you move on to explain this, could you tell me how you assess the significance of these UN documents?

You see, this question gets to the very heart of the matter. These non-binding UN resolutions are in fact binding on the UN system. They direct the programs and spending of massive UN agencies with multi-billion-dollar budgets. But there is more, the argument of the sexual Left is that these non-binding documents create new rights under customary international law. So, every time that Hungary joins with the European Union in taking the most radical sexual positions, they are doing two things: they are agreeing that these norms are perfectly fine within the UN system. But they also appear to agree with the argument of the other side that new international norms are created.  So yes, Hungary does a great job domestically but Hungary ought to know that the UN is not the place to impose these norms on the rest of the world. I know for sure that Hungary strongly believes in national sovereignty, but all of these documents at the UN violate the national sovereignty of countries around the world.

Are you talking about the phenomenon that is also known as ‘the rule of judges’?

Indeed. This is because these documents—even those that are non-binding—are used in court systems, in publicity, in propaganda that these are new norms that governments have to agree to.

Turning back to your criticism towards the Hungarian government, what do you think, the nature of those issues you mentioned is rather political or legal?

Well, it’s both, isn’t it?

PHOTO: Dávid Vaszkó/Hungarian Conservative

I asked this because if these are issues of political nature, that would mean—at least for me—that the responsibility to answer your criticism regarding the behaviour of the governments at the UN lies with the conservative communities around the globe. And this includes winning the elections and domestic policymaking and influencing the legislative outcomes afterwards.

In my opinion, on the one hand, it may be a political issue that the Hungarian government handles domestically, but on the other hand, Hungary ought to stand up to the idea that these issues should be imposed by the UN.

Okay, so let’s talk about the legal nature of the issue in order to clarify the point I made earlier. In the past decade, the Hungarian legal system has been adjusted in a way that ensures that leftist NGOs cannot effectively propagate issues that are too progressive for the current government. Besides, there are doctrines even in the liberal human rights system—like the ‘margin of appreciation’, which balances individual rights with national interests—that are to be considered by the international human rights courts. And these are concepts that the Hungarian government can indeed rely upon. And if the conservative government has nothing to ‘fear’ currently in this regard, the short-term goal might be not to open another front with the EU at a global level. You know, Hungary is fighting these battles you mentioned in the old continent as we speak.

If this is the case, then Hungary ought to say so. You know when these documents are negotiated at the United Nations there is every opportunity for a government to issue what is known as explanations of position. Consider that the European Union opposes all mentions of national sovereignty. Hungary should clarify that they do support the right of nations to determine these issues on their own. What we want more than anything is for Hungary to break with the EU consensus during negotiations. Failing that,

we would be happy if Hungary explained their understanding of such terms as ‘sexual rights, comprehensive sexuality education, sexual orientation and gender identity’

and all the other vague but highly dangerous terms. We note that Hungary is perfectly willing to break the EU consensus on issues of supreme importance to them, migration, for instance. We want them to break the EU position on the moral issues, too.

As we could see, you are known as one of the harshest critics of the UN, or at least the way it operates now. What is your major complaint at the UN, and how would you reform its operation?

The UN is involved in issues it ought not to be involved in—for example, the creation of new and highly controversial human rights. When these new ‘rights’ are advanced, then the rights of the largely agreed upon Universal Declaration of Human Rights are watered down. So, our major complaint at the UN is not that it exists, but that there is a sexual ideology that has taken hold at the United Nations approximately 25 years ago. I am talking about the idea of imposing the sexual revolution on the rest of the world. The organisation has absolutely no business directing the intimate lives of men, women, and children worldwide. It is an assault on what I call the three sacred sovereignty, the state, family and the Church.

What do you think, is the objective of jointly ensuring the enforcement of human rights and the realisation of conservative goals achievable?

Well, not with the current people running the UN and the UN agencies.

Can you tell me why?

Because they are hard leftists. We have just gone through from January until Spring what I call ‘commission season’ (the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on the Status of Population and Development, the Commission on Social Development, etc.). And during the Commission on the Status of Women, they banned pro-life and pro-family events at the UN. Thus, I consider them totalitarian in the things that they demand.

Hungary should assert its national sovereignty and resist the imposition of global norms on aggressive sexual progressivism through UN documents, Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) argues.