World Congress of Families Selects Salt Lake City for Summit

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organisation, today responded to the World Congress of Families’ announcement that it will host its next annual summit in Salt Lake City, UT in the fall of 2015.

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In addition, the group is holding its traditional pre-summit planning meetings in Salt Lake City on October 22nd and 23rd of this year.

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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. WCF has been most active in Russia and Eastern Europe, and planned to host this year’s summit at the Kremlin in Moscow. But following the Russian annexation of Crimea, it was forced to temporarily suspend this year’s gathering, which it appears to have now cancelled. The Salt Lake City World Congress of Families next year would be the first ever hosted in the United States.

“Hate is not an American value, and the World Congress of Families must stop exporting their vicious brand of anti-LGBT bigotry abroad,” said Ty Cobb, HRC’s Director of Global Engagement. “Despite claiming to be an international organisation, the American-led World Congress of Families annually gathers a collective of the most globally active haters from our country to plot out anti-LGBT work around the world. The words and actions of this organisation and its extremist affiliates harm LGBT people from Russia to Nigeria and beyond. We urge the citizens of Salt Lake City to make it clear that the mission of the World Congress of Families does not align with their values.”

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 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.

Photo By John P Salvatore [CC0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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