HRC to Treasury: Investigate Potential Russian Sanctions Violations by World Congress of Families

by Ianthe Metzger

On eve of Kremlin event, American anti-LGBT organization comes under fire for possibly breaking U.S. law by dealing with high-ranking Russian officials

WASHINGTON –– The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today called on the Treasury Department to investigate the leadership of the World Congress of Families for possibly violating U.S. sanctions imposed against Russian officials following the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

According to a new Mother Jones piece, the World Congress of Families (WCF), a U.S.-based organization that is considered an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, may be in violation of U.S. law by dealing with Russian officials Yelena Mizulina and Vladimir Yakunin. Both Mizulina and Yakunin were included in rounds of U.S. sanctions announced earlier this year, and appear on the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.

In a letter to Adam Szubin, the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the Treasury Department, HRC’s Government Affairs Director David Stacy stated:

“The World Congress of Families has consistently praised Vladimir Putin as the standard-bearer for traditional ‘family values,’ and its connections to his regime are well-documented and widely-known…We urge the Office of Foreign Assets Control to investigate the matter and determine whether the World Congress of Families violated U.S. law through collaboration with sanctioned Russian officials.”

Two members of WCF’s leadership, Larry Jacobs and Don Feder, are listed on the seven-member organizing committee for an event this week in Moscow titled “Large Families—the Future of Humanity, ” and both have confirmed they’re traveling to Russia to participate in the event.  Mizulina is also listed on the organizing committee, and the forum is being hosted by Istoki Fund, which is an endowment run by Yakunin.

WCF has long held ties to both officials; Mizulina, a State Duma Deputy, is the author of Russia’s notorious anti-LGBT propaganda law.  She has met with Jacobs and other WCF officials several times over the past few years and was slated to organize a parliamentary session as part of a WCF summit in Moscow, which was cancelled following the annexation of Crimea. Yakunin was also slated to be a financial supporter of that summit.

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 August, HRC’s Foundation released a report that exposed the World Congress of Families as 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 coordinates a dangerous group of activists that spread anti-LGBT rhetoric and promote anti-LGBT laws abroad.  Their advocacy abroad harms LGBT people from Russia to Nigeria and beyond, said Ty Cobb, HRC’s Director of Global Engagement.  “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.”

In July, WCF announced that its next annual international convention will take place in Salt Lake City in 2015, making it the first ever hosted on American soil.

The Human Rights Campaign is 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.


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