Post submitted by Rebecca Parks, former Associate Director, HRC Global
The World Congress of Families has rolled out a new website announcing Salt Lake City as the location of their next major gathering in October 2015. In preparation for this major conference, a group of WCF leaders will be gathering in Salt Lake on October 22 of this year.
Labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, The World Congress of Families (WCF) is considered by some to be the nerve center for much of the American-led anti-LGBT advocacy abroad. It spreads hateful rhetoric and promotes anti-LGBT legislation around the world, and it has hosted large annual conventions of international “family” activists since 1997. The Salt Lake City World Congress of Families next year would be the first ever hosted in the United States. Previous Congresses have been held in Prague, Geneva, Mexico City, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Madrid and Sydney.
The last time we heard from the WCF they were forced to suspend planning for a World Congress that was scheduled to be held this fall at the Kremlin in Moscow. The group had come under increasing pressure from its own partner organizations to separate itself from the Putin regime after the annexation of Crimea. Despite this move, WCF leaders have lavished the Russian government with praise for its crackdown on LGBT people and freedom of expression.
WCF officials have been frequent visitors to Russia and have met with high ranking members of the Russian government and other influential policymakers, including Yelena Mizulina, a member of the Duma and the author of Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” legislation. A WCF spokesman claimed that the organization played an important role in the passage of this and other “pro family” legislation in Russia. The WCF has also held events across Eastern Europe in an attempt to drum up support for more anti-LGBT laws and suppress events such as pride marches.
The World Congress of Families has also been active in Africa. It has held events in Nigeria and Kenya, and sponsored an event keynoted by the First Lady of Uganda in New York. In 2009, WCF spokesman Don Feder urged Nigerians at a conference in Abuja to do "the opposite" of what the West asked and another WCF representative visited Nigeria in 2012 to address to speak on “healthy sexuality” and “children’s rights vs. children’s needs.”
WCF’s presence in Africa has corresponded with a disturbing rise of harsh penalties for LGBT Africans in countries like Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria, where nearly 90 percent of citizens believe homosexuality is wrong. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed horrific new anti-LGBT legislation in January of this year, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni did the same this February.