U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power on Feb. 10 met with three LGBTQ and intersex activists in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
Budapest Pride President Viktoria Radvanyi and Hungarian Helsinki Committee Head of Advocacy András Léderer are two of the activists who met with Power.
USAID spokesperson Jessica Jennings in a press release said the activists “discussed the experiences of LGBTQI+ people in Hungary and their efforts to increase understanding, support marginalized groups and improve the lives of LGBTQI+ people in Hungary” with Power.
“The administrator (Power) emphasized that the United States will continue to stand as an ally with LGBTQI+ people and all marginalized groups in their struggle for equality,” noted Jennings.
The meeting took place against the backdrop of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s crackdown on LGBTQ and intersex rights in Hungary.
Radvanyi on Monday noted to the Washington Blade it is “impossible to change your gender legally in Hungary” because of a 2020 law that “banned legal gender recognition of transgender and intersex people.”
An anti-LGBTQ propaganda law that Radvanyi said was “copy and pasted” from Russia took effect in 2021. Hungarian MPs in 2020 effectively banned same-sex couples from adopting children and defined marriage in the country’s constitution as between a man and a woman.
The European Commission last July sued Hungary, which is a member of the European Union, over the country’s propaganda law.
President Joe Biden in 2021 signed a memorandum that commited the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad as part of his administration’s overall foreign policy. David Pressman, the U.S. ambassador to Hungary, is openly gay.
Jennings in the USAID press release did not say whether Pressman attended the meeting with the activists, but it did note he met with Power before she left Budapest. Radvanyi said the activists who attended “were all very honored that Administrator Power had a dedicated meeting just about the Hungarian LGBTQ community and LGBTQ issues.”
“We know that she has a very, very busy schedule,” Radvanyi told the Blade. “We really appreciated that she treated the case of our community as such a high priority.”
Léderer described the meeting as a “very honest, sincere conversation on the situation of the Hungarian LGBT+ community.”
“In addition to how the community as a whole carries on amidst growing homo- and transphobic government policies and statements, she also wanted to know how individual members of the community, including those fighting for equal treatment and human rights, are coping with the hostile environment,” Léderer told the Blade, referring to Power. “We were happy to share great examples of resilience, including the successful campaign led by civil society organisations last year to invalidate the homo- and transphobic referendum initiated by the government by casting purposefully spoiled ballots.”