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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the 3rd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Allow me to welcome you all. I wish to extend an especially warm welcome to your leaders. I have seen and done a great many things during my career of almost thirty years as a politician. I have experienced both victories and defeats. I have spoken at the events of a variety of organisations around the world, but I have never before had the privilege of speaking at a conference organised by the World Federation of the Deaf. The time has now come for this as well. I wish to congratulate the group leaders. I’m going to try to use sign language. It is a pleasure for me to be here, among you, for several reasons. First of all, because I may welcome you in person in Budapest. You may have seen for yourselves that this is a city which is not only a place to live for us, but we, Hungarians also look upon our capital city as a cultural work of art, and we are proud of it. Secondly, I’m glad that I can say thank you to my friend Ádám Kósa. That I can say thank you to his colleagues for having organised this illustrious event. And thirdly, it is a pleasure for me to be here with you because until today I didn’t think there existed another secret code apart from Hungarian.

The Dear Lord has blessed us, Hungarians with a strangely unique way of thinking, and this is also expressed in our language, and accordingly we speak a language that no one in the whole world understands apart from us. In consequence, we Hungarians often have the feeling that the unique nature of our language excludes us from the world and encloses us into our own little world. Additionally, we are a nation, a third of which lives outside the borders of our country, in minorities, and they are struggling day in, day out to be able to use their own language. So this special relationship between the Hungarians and their language also warranted that you should pay a visit to our country, and warrants that the Prime Minister of Hungary should welcome you on behalf of the Government. Your sign language represents a special value, and we find the way in which you are fighting for it worthy of recognition. You want to have the right to use your own sign language in every country of the world and in every walk of life, and to foster and develop deaf culture. And we, Hungarians stand by you because, for the reasons I just mentioned, we believe that everyone has the right to live a life which is not confined by limits while using their own language.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’d like to tell you and report to you on what we have done so far, what our thoughts are about you and what kind of a future we envisage, what duties we have in future. First of all, I’d like to inform you that you have arrived in a country in which the deaf and the hard-of-hearing constitute a much appreciated segment of society. Your Hungarian counterparts have worked extremely hard in order to earn this appreciation. I wish to thank them, as I also thank the volunteers who are with us here, for having made this meeting today possible. Today, you are in a country in which we adopted a new Constitution in 2011. This is a modern Constitution that is also testified to by the fact that there is a separate passage in it about Hungarian sign language, and our Constitution lays down clearly that Hungarian sign language forms part of Hungarian culture. You are now in a country that was the first in the world to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol in 2007. And you are now in a country in which the world’s most complex sign language legislation has been in force since 2009. This law regulates everything, every area, be that education, sign language interpreting services or the teaching of sign language itself. In our world, in our country, the deaf have the right to use their own language in every facet of life. We have, for instance, required national television broadcasting channels to make their programs 100 percent accessible at their own expense. We’re also proud of having created the legal framework for teaching sign language separately to the parents of deaf children and to deaf children studying in integrated schools. We have also introduced legislation on providing interpreting services, and accordingly in Hungary all deaf persons have access to sign language interpreting services under standard conditions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have accomplished a great deal to date, but there are areas in which we still have much to do. We have launched a programme within the framework of which the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has begun preparations for the introduction of the bilingual education of Hungarian deaf children. We would like young deaf people to acquire skills and knowledge within the framework of bilingual education that provide them with guaranteed access to the labour market, as we have heard from our section leader from Brazil. I’m also personally proud of the fact that several members of the Hungarian Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing – which is your representation in Hungary – have undertaken roles in Hungarian public life since 2009. I think this is a great accomplishment. This takes a great deal of courage and determination, and I wish to congratulate the Hungarian deaf who are also prepared to play a part in public life. I wish to thank Ádám Kósa, who is an esteemed Member of the European Parliament. We are proud to have been able to send a representative there from Hungary of all countries. And fellow Member of Parliament Gergely Tapolczai, who is a Member of the Hungarian National Assembly and an old colleague of mine, also performs a very important job for us. I’d also like to highlight in particular that, at the request of the Hungarian Government, László Lovászy has represented persons with disabilities in the UN since 2013. I’m convinced that their roles are important not only because they represent you, though this is significant in itself, but also because they show courage, provide encouragement, and set an example for all young deaf people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our goal is to enforce the rights of deaf people in Hungary to the fullest extent. It’s not enough to merely declare this goal. It must also be enforced with a great deal of hard work, and we must pay attention to your community continuously. This is why we decided that as of this year 9 November, the anniversary of the passage of the sign language law, will be the Day of Hungarian Sign Language, which will draw attention, everyone’s attention, to your language and challenges. And this is why we decided that you may count on us in the UN and also on other forums; we are going to stand up for the objective represented by the WFD, as the Esteemed President asked the Hungarian Government at the negotiations that preceded this speech of mine. The Hungarian Government, Ladies and Gentlemen, also supports the initiative of the WFD, which seeks to secure an international world day for sign languages. I myself believe that it is important to draw the attention of governments and the people to the importance of sign language.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, I’d like to thank the World Federation of the Deaf for the trust they have expressed in Hungary by having brought this event to Hungary, and we would like to thank you for the trust you have expressed towards the interest protection association of the deaf in Hungary. Thank you for your trust. I wish our guests a meaningful conference, and if your time permits, please stay here a little longer, and then come back to us later on so that you may see as much of our beautiful capital city as possible.

Thank you for your kind attention. God bless you all!