The WCF X conference is taking place in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, from May 15-18, the same time LGBT Georgians’ celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia,and Biphobia. In 2013, the day was marred by anti-LGBT violence in the capital.
“The World Congress of Families focuses on bringing in the most notorious anti-LGBT activists from around the world, leaving terrible harm and discrimination in their wake,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “Try as they might to hide behind so-called ‘pro-family’ rhetoric, the World Congress of Families is a hate group that convenes thousands of extremists from around the globe to strategies about how to make the world a more dangerous place for LGBT people.”
WCF works closely with extremists spreading anti-LGBT rhetoric and promoting laws and policies that criminalise not only LGBT people, but also those who speak out to support them. HRC’s report on the group, Exposed: The World Congress of Families, underscores the reality that WCF 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, a notorious exporter of hate who has compared LGBT people to the terrorist group Boko Haram, and Brian Brown, president and co-founder of the National Organisation for Marriage (NOM), a once-prominent anti-LGBT 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 normalise pedophilia?”
“WCF has honoured a Nigerian activist who claims LGBT advocates conspire with terrorists with a “Woman of the Year” award, and lauded Vladimir Putin’s ‘morality,’”Cobb said. “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 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 brought together local leaders, citizens, and advocates to promote a positive image of LGBT people and their families.
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 supporting the measure. As a HRC report documented last year, harassment, investigations, arrests, and acts of violence against LGBT Russians have occurred in the wake of the law. When a Mother Jones reporter asked WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs if the organisation 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 its 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 organised 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, has 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 criminalise homosexuality in the country, and prominent Ugandan LGBT activists say that the bill “is essentially his creation.”