By Thom Senzee
Originally published on Advocate.com July 02 2014 5:45 PM ET
The World Congress of Families, an antigay organization labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has set its sights on Salt Lake City as the venue for its annual summit next year. The group will descend on Salt Lake City for pre-summit planning meetings October 22 and 23.
“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, the Human Rights Campaign's director of global engagement in a Tuesday statement.
Next year's summit, scheduled to be held on an unspecified date in the fall of 2015, marks the first time the event will be held on U.S. soil, according to HRC. This year's summit was slated to take place in Moscow, but was suspended as international tensions escalated over Russia's annexation of Crimea and ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
The Illinois-based group's website says the World Congress of Families "affirms and defends the natural family as the fundamental unit of civilizations, thus renewing a stable and free society." In the past year, the group has sent more than a dozen activists to Russia to support its recently enacted ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships" in venues accessible to minors, according to HRC.
Late last year, the group's well-documented antigay agenda prompted Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk to deny access to congressional buildings where the group's leaders were scheduled to hold a panel touting the supposed successes of so-called pro-family legislation abroad in nations like Russia and Uganda. Although House Speaker John Boehner, who invited the panel to Capitol Hill, ultimately found the group a new meeting space, the World Congress of Families' leadership decried the Illinois Republican's lockout as evidence that he had "chosen to side with the policies of decline, death and disease promoted by the Sexual Radicals."
In its Tuesday statement, HRC notes that the organization bears a deceptive misnomer, since the World Congress of Families is mostly a group of notorious American homophobes.
"Despite claiming to be an international organization, 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," HRC's Cobb said. "The words and actions of this organization 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.”
HRC also reports that the group serves as a "nerve center" for American-led anti-LGBT missions abroad, where the group's goals are to inspire and support antigay legislation, including laws passed in Russia, and Nigeria's "Jail the Gays" law.