Budapest (AFP) – A conference sponsored by the Hungarian government has been postponed because of objections over keynote speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay provocateur and former Breitbart editor, organisers said Tuesday.
The three-day “Future of Europe” event had been due to begin on January 23 as part of Hungary’s presidency of the Visegrad 4 bloc of central European countries.
But the organisers, a research foundation whose head is close to right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said that the event has “become part of the partisan political struggles” ahead of elections expected in April.
“That makes it impossible for a free debate of differing opinions and outlooks to take place undisturbed,” it said, adding that the conference has been moved to May, after the elections.
Yiannopoulos, 33, casts himself as a gay crusader for free speech and an enemy of “political correctness”, and has been widely accused of being racist and misogynistic.
The Briton resigned last February from Breitbart, the right-wing news website, and lost a book deal after a video emerged in which he appeared to condone paedophilia.
Other scheduled speakers included Goetz Kubitschek, a figure from Germany’s “New Right”, and radical Hungarian-born sociologist Frank Furedi.
French philosopher Pascal Bruckner cancelled his attendance saying he did not want to appear alongside “extremist elements hostile to the values of our continent.”
Yiannopoulos was due to open the conference, to be attended by Hungary’s foreign minister, with a speech titled “Challenges of the Western World”.
The postponement followed an outcry from opposition parties and indications that Orban’s government, which fiercely opposes immigration, was starting to get cold feet.
A senior member of the Fidesz ruling party said last week that Yiannopoulos’s attendance was now “not likely”, since the event had “no room for the popularisation of paedophilia”.