August 25, 2014
Exposed: The World Congress of Families
In advance of first-ever U.S. summit, new HRC report uncovers the‘nerve center’ of American extremists exporting anti-LGBT bigotry abroad
WASHINGTON –– The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today released a new report that exposes one of the most influential groups in America promoting and coordinating the exportation of anti-LGBT bigotry, ideology, and legislation abroad: The World Congress of Families.
Labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and active in several nations across five continents, the Rockford, IL-based World Congress of Families (WCF) has organized large international “pro-family” conventions that bring together the most fringe activists engaged in anti-LGBT extremism since 1997. In July, WCF announced that its next annual international convention will take place in Salt Lake City, making it the first ever hosted on American soil.
“The World Congress of Families coordinates 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,” said Ty Cobb, HRC Foundation’s Director of Global Engagement. “They praise Vladimir Putin as the standard-bearer for traditional ‘family values’ and honored a Nigerian activist who claims LGBT advocates conspire with the terrorist group Boko Haram with a “Woman of the Year” award. Their advocacy abroad harms LGBT people from Russia to Nigeria and beyond. Hate is not an American value, and we must expose and work to stop the World Congress of Families and their extremist allies.”
HRC Foundation’s report documents: WCF’s origins and founding members; a timeline of its major international events; affiliations with prominent American officials, political groups, and religious organizations; engagement and lobbying with leaders and lawmakers abroad; and the primary regions in which the group has been most active.
Uganda, Russia, and Nigeria have enacted horrific anti-LGBT laws within the past year, and LGBT people in those countries have suffered vicious and violent backlashes in their wake. This includes harassment, discrimination, prosecution, public beatings, and murder. WCF and its affiliates are connected to anti-LGBT advocacy in each of the three countries, among many others.
WCF affiliate Scott Lively traveled repeatedly to Uganda claiming that LGBT people are responsible for the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and the spread of HIV/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 the "bill is essentially his creation." WCF also forcefully advocated for the draconian anti-LGBT Russian law, met with the law’s author in the Russian Duma, and released a public letter in support of the measure. WCF has also repeatedly hosted events in Nigeria with “pro-family” activists from Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.
“This organization and their affiliates’ global advocacy have corresponded with a dangerous rise in anti-LGBT laws, discrimination, and even violence around the world,” said Cobb. “Their harmful impact is being felt in nearly every corner of the globe, and we urge all fair-minded Americans to reject the World Congress of Families and their exportation of anti-LGBT hate.”
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.