The World Congress of Families (WCF), designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, announced last week that a regional conference would be held on October 31 and November 1 in Accra, Ghana, marking an expansion of its right-wing fundamentalist agenda in West Africa.
Formed in Russia in 1997 by American right-wing thinkers and Russian counterparts, the World Congress of Families is one of the major driving forces of the global promotion of an anti-choice and anti-LGBTIQ agenda. Using pseudo-human rights language about the rights of the family, the child, and freedom of religion, WCF promotes conservative ideologies centered around concepts of “natural law” and “natural family” through laws criminalizing LGBTIQ people and sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular abortion, both at a national and international level.
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Executive Director, Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa, comments:
“It is extremely concerning to see the group expand its interest in West-Africa; its presence will undoubtedly increase social stigma and discrimination against LGBTIQ people, especially those living with HIV/AIDS. Same-sex relations are still criminalized in the majority of the region, violence, and harassment of LGBTIQ people are ripe, so LGBTIQ people are already living in hiding and in fear for their lives. We fear that the congress will come with an even harsher agenda, and ample resources for increasing hate against LGBTIQ people in West Africa.”
WCF is well-connected, well-resourced and influential, and has, to a greater or lesser degree, influenced the passing of barbaric laws such as the anti-homosexuality act in Uganda, the same-sex marriage prohibition act in Nigeria, and the notorious so-called gay-propaganda law in Russia.
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, comments:
“This is not the first instance of American Evangelicals and organizations exporting homophobia and transphobia around the world. Their agenda stands in stark contrast to basic human rights standards, instead openly inciting attacks on human dignity, and promoting a long out-dated world of religious domination and stark gender inequalities. We have to work across civil society and state boundaries to support activists in West Africa and ensure that an already hostile environment for LGBTIQ people and women does not become even more so.”
The congress brings together participants from right-wing civil society organizations, such as Citizen Go and Family Watch International, religious groups, as well as elected officials, religious leaders, scholars and others. It provides a platform for strategizing on further promotion of the fundamentalist agenda.