Friday, August 12, 2016

World Conference of Families Co-Hosts Conference in Kenya

The African Regional Conference on Families is scheduled to take place at the Hotel Intercontinental in Naiborbi, Kenya on September 22-24, 2016. According to a promotional video, the event will feature speakers such as Sharon Slater of Family Watch International, Don Feder of the World Congress of Families, and Bishop Salesius Mugambi, who has opposed efforts to "redefine or erode the meaning of marriage". The event's Eventbrite page states that the conference will be hosted by the World Congress of Families, the African Organisation for Families, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.

As readers may recall, the World Congress of Families hosts large-scale international events that draw Religious Right leaders from around the world. These events invariably oppose reproductive rights, feminism, and LGBTQ equality. If the itinerary of this event is any indication, the World Congress of Families and its allies have comprehensive sex education in their crosshairs as well.

The conference's Eventbrite page lists the following "threats" facing African families. Some, such as violence against women and girls, are legitimate. Others reflect a worldview that sees LGBTQ people, contraception, and comprehensive sex education as pernicious.

  • Pressure from the west to erode natural families
  • Female Genital Mutilitaion
  • Domestic Violence
  • Comprehensive Sexuality Education
  • Pornography
  • Human Trafficking
  • Erosion of parenting responsibilities
  • Family attack by media
  • Adoption of liberal laws etc
  • Population Control and lethal family planning methods

According to Vatican Radio, Anne Kioko, the president of the African Organisation for Families, slammed comprehensive sex education programs because they allegedly teach children promiscuity.
"These programs go way beyond regular sex education and are designed to change all sexual and gender norms of society. They openly promote promiscuity, high-risk sexual behaviour and sexual pleasure even to very young children."
Such attitudes are dangerous, especially in Africa. A continent with high fertility rates will continue to experience economic struggles and pressure on its infrastructure. A continent where many women want to avoid pregnancy but still struggle to access modern contraception will not see all of its women realize their full potential. Comprehensive sex education in Africa (which includes medically accurate content on contraception and sexual decision-making) is vital to achieving a sustainable population, empowering women, and ensuring that future generations thrive. Unfortunately, organizations such as the World Congress of Families and the African Organization for Families want to oppose progress.

Also, talk of the west "eroding" family values seems to be code for advancing LGBTQ rights across the globe. If the Kenya conference promotes anti-LGBTQ ideas, it will be advance homophobia in a country where LGBTQ people already struggle against intolerance and anti-gay legislation (to say nothing of the rest of the continent).

The World Congress of Families, the African Organisation for Families, the Catholic Church, and their allies deserve criticism for promoting these messages. Comprehensive sex education and family planning are vital to both women's empowerment and national economic strength, but the conference organizers fail to realize this. LGBTQ Africans deserve equality, but the conference would rather scapegoat them as a western threat to the "natural family". As usual, the World Congress of Families and its supporters are promoting toxic ideas abroad, which will make the struggle for progress that much harder.

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