Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Human Rights Campaign Calls Out World Congress of Families on its Russian Ties

It's well known that several U.S. Religious Right organizations perform outreach around the globe. The World Congress of Families excels at doing so, hosting international summits that draw anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion activists from around the world. WCF has ties to Russia's right and was one of several U.S. Religious Right groups that praised Russia's anti-gay legislation. Now, WCF's ties to Russia have created a scandal.

On September 10-11, several Russian organizations will host a conference in Moscow called "Large Families: The Future of Humanity". "The family as a social institution and the spiritual entity makes up the basis for life for the whole of society," argues an announcement for the conference at the Istoki Foundation website. "A vital and top priority task for civilization today is to defend the way of life of large families and protect them from current challenges that threaten their well-being."

The conference will take place at the State Kremlin Palace and the Council Hall of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, featuring topics such as "Law on the Protection of Family and the Rights of Children" and "The Role of Mass Media in Strengthening the Values of a Traditional Family."

The World Congress of Families planned to host a similar conference in Moscow this fall, but conflict between Russia and Ukraine compelled them to cancel the event. However, Mother Jones observes that the upcoming Moscow conference "looks a lot like a barely rebranded version of the original WCF event", adding that two WCF staff members are on the event's organizing committee. The list of organizers for the "Large Families" conference is no longer on the Istoki Foundation website, but Mother Jones posted an archived copy of the list here.

In a press release, Larry Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress of Families, insisted that the WCF has neither lent its name to the "Large Families" conference nor financially supported the event. Still, he noted that several WCF staff do plan to attend.

Now, WCF's ties to the Moscow conference and certain Russian officials has at least one organization calling for an investigation.

In March of this year, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released a list of sixteen Russian officials under sanctions as per Executive Order 13661, in response to the Russia-Ukraine unrest. Human Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights, submitted a letter today asking the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control to investigate WCF for possible violations of the executive order. According to the letter, "strong evidence" indicates that two Russian officials under sanctions -- Yelena Mizulina and Vladimir Yakunin -- have been involved in planning the conference. Until two weeks ago, two WCF staff members were also among the conference organizers, the letter explains.
"Information that we have read suggests that there is a connection between WCF, the newly organized conference, and the Russian officials listed on the Ukraine-related sanctions list, and therefore 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."
Progressive groups have watched with consternation as the American Religious Right has networked with its global counterparts. Now, their close observation of one right-wing group may have unearthed a scandal. Time will tell the Office of Foreign Assets Control investigates WCF and what that investigation will find.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Buzzfeed: “Pro-Life Olympics” To Open Next Week In Moscow Despite American Sponsors’ Official Cancellation

TWO Care: American World Congress Of Families Organizers Still Linked With ‘Cancelled’ Moscow Summit

Star Observer: Babette and Me at the World Congress of Families


  1. If Iran or North Korea was a Fundamentalist Christian nation, they would be going there as well for conferences. These people have a complete lack of credibility and respect for human rights.

    1. Christian -- Ain't that the truth. They need to stop and think about who they're collaborating with.

  2. Too many groups in sheep's clothing- preaching"love" but its nothing but hate.

    1. Heather -- Very true. There's no love in this.


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