- April 7, 2016
Post submitted by Kerry Brodie, former HRC Global Press Secretary
HRC stands in solidarity with LGBT advocates and allies as anti-LGBT activists descended on Barbados for a regional gathering hosted by the World Congress of Families (WCF). Designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, WCF provides a platform for some of the most virulently anti-LGBT extremists from around the world.
This WCF regional conference will take place in Barbados from April 8-9.
“The World Congress of Families focuses on bringing in the most notorious anti-LGBT activists from around the world, leaving harm and discrimination in their wake,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “Try as they might to hide behind flowery language, the World Congress of Families is a hate group that convenes thousands of extremists from around the globe to strategize about how best to further endanger LGBT lives."
WCF works closely with a dangerous group of activists spreading anti-LGBT rhetoric and promoting laws and policies that criminalize LGBT people and the speech of those who support them. HRC’s report on the group, Exposed: The World Congress of Families, makes clear that the organization and many of its affiliates are laser-focused on promoting policies and rhetoric that put LGBT people and their families at incredible risk.
The conference speakers include Theresa Okafor, who has compared LGBT people to Boko Haram, and notorious exporter of hate, Brian Brown. Brown is the president and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a once-prominent anti-LGBT equality group. In 2011, Brown said, “When you knock over a core pillar of society like marriage, and then try to redefine Biblical views of marriage as bigotry, there will be consequences. Will one of the consequences be a serious push to normalize pedophilia?”
“WCF has honored a Nigerian activist who claims LGBT advocates conspire with terrorists with a “Woman of the Year” award, and lauded Vladimir Putin’s ‘morality,’” said Cobb. “The work of WCF supports positions and policies that harm LGBT people around the world. Their advocacy abroad incites hatred against LGBT people from Russia to Nigeria and beyond.”
In October 2015 HRC worked with with LGBT advocates and allies in Salt Lake City as 2,500 anti-LGBT activists descended on the Beehive State. As part of its larger effort to call out WCF and its allies for their nefarious activities, 14,000 HRC members signed their names to a two-page advertisement in Sunday’s Salt Lake Tribune. HRC also sponsored the Inclusive Families Conference in Salt Lake City in advance of the conference, which gathered local leaders, citizens, and advocates and promoted a positive vision of LGBT people and their families. On the eve of the gathering, HRC gathered local advocates and international witnesses of the exportation of anti-LGBT venom abroad in a press conference inside the Utah State Capitol. HRC also hosted a screening of Hunted: Gay and Afraid, a brand-new documentary that shows in vivid detail both the efforts and impact of WCF’s advocacy abroad.
In 2013, WCF forcefully advocated for the draconian anti-LGBT Russian “anti-propaganda law,” met with the law’s author in the Russian Duma, and released a public letter in support of the measure. As a HRC report documented last year, harassment, investigations, arrests, and acts of violence against LGBT Russians have followed in the wake of the law’s passage. When a Mother Jones reporter asked WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs if the organization had contributed to the Russian crackdown on its LGBT citizens, Jacobs said, “Yes, I think that is accurate.” Additionally, WCF may be in violation of U.S. sanctions against Russia because of the organization’s dealings with two Russian officials who appear on the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.
Active across five continents, WCF has organized large international “pro-family” conventions that bring together a wide range of vehemently anti-LGBT activists. WCF’s activities range from holding conferences in Nigeria focused on denying rights to LGBT people to working to silence the Russian LGBT community.
WCF affiliate Scott Lively, who may also be attending the conference, traveled repeatedly to Uganda, claiming that LGBT people are responsible for the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and the spread of HIV and AIDS. Some Ugandan officials credit Lively with the idea of introducing new legislation to further criminalize homosexuality in the country, and prominent Ugandan LGBT activists say that the bill "is essentially his creation."
LGBT people throughout the Caribbean face immense challenges. Eleven countries in the Caribbean retain laws that criminalize sexual acts between men. In Barbados LGBT people can face life in prison, while in Jamaica they can face hard labor while in prison. Even in countries without this form of state-sponsored discrimination, LGBT people are often targeted and face discrimination and harassment.