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World Congress of Families

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World Congress of Families
Key people
International Secretary, Allan C. Carlson

The World Congress of Families (WCF) is a United States coalition that promotes Christian right values internationally.[2] It opposes divorce, birth control, same-sex marriage, pornography, and abortion, while supporting a society built on "the voluntary union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant of marriage".[3][4][5][6] WCF comprises organizations in several countries, and most of its member partners are strongly active campaigners against abortion rights and same-sex marriage.[7] WCF was formed in 1997 and is active worldwide, regularly organizing conventions.[8] Its opposition to gay marriage and abortion has attracted criticism.[9]

In 2014, following its involvement with the 2013 Russian LGBT propaganda law, the Southern Poverty Law Center added WCF to the list of organizations it considers as anti-LGBT groups.[10][11][12][13] WCF has also been influential in Africa. A 2015 report by Human Rights Campaign pointed to WCF's influence on anti-LGBT laws in Nigeria and Uganda,[14] while the director of the NGO Rightify Ghana noted in 2021 that, after the WCF conference in Ghana's capital city of Accra in late 2019, "there was a rush to push legislation" against LGBT in Ghana.[15] The organization has received funding from sanctioned Russian oligarchs.[16][17][18]


Allan C. Carlson, President of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, initiated the congress on the basis of article 16c of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, saying: "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state".[19] According to WCF, its purpose is to "stand up for the position of the traditional family, in a time of eroding family life and declining appreciation for families in general". The coalition defines "the natural family" as the "union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant of marriage"[20] and works with other organizations such as the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University (BYU) to promote its views.[21] The Human Rights Campaign called WCF "one of the most influential groups in America promoting and coordinating the exportation of anti-LGBT bigotry, ideology, and legislation abroad" and stated that their international conferences comprise "the most fringe activists engaged in anti-LGBT extremism".[8][22] According to the HRC, the WCF and its affiliates are also linked to anti-LGBT advocacy in numerous countries, including on the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, the Russian LGBT propaganda law, and Nigeria.[8]

The WCF is controversial for its opposition to legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation,[23][24] opposition to same sex marriage,[25] and support for policies against homosexuality in Russia.[26] It was added to the SPLC's list of active hate groups in 2014. The WCF responded to hate group designations by publishing a report addressing the 25-plus accusations made by the SPLC and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), including their labeling the WCF as a hate group.[27] In response to the WCF report, Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global, did not react to the factual errors in his own report and just said "WCF's explanations do little to mask its record of anti-LGBT rhetoric or those of organizations it partners with around the world."[27]


The WCF has organized conferences since 1997.[28]

Following initial planning in 2010,[29] the WCF sponsored the July 2011 Moscow Demographic Summit, which formulated a communique calling on governments to develop "a pro-family demographic policy and to adopt a special international pro-family strategy and action plan aimed at consolidating family and marriage, protecting human life from conception to natural death, increasing birth rates, and averting the menace of depopulation."[30]

In London in 2012, the WCF were refused permission to hire out the facilities of the Law Society for an event entitled One man. One woman. Making the case for marriage for the good of society,[31] and had to find an alternative venue.[32]

In 2013, Mark Kirk, the Republican Senator for Illinois revoked the WCF access to a Senate meeting room in the U.S. Capitol.[33]

In February 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) included WCF in their listing of anti-gay hate groups.[10][11][12][34] As of August 2014 The WCF partners listing includes several groups that are also listed as anti-gay hate groups by the SPLC, including American Family Association, Family Research Council, Family Watch International, and Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.[35][36]

Larry Jacobs was invited to Russia to advise Russian Orthodox leaders in setting up Christian right coalitions that unite Protestant Evangelical and Roman Catholic groups opposing legalized abortion.[37] Larry Jacobs has been a strong advocate of the Russian LGBT propaganda law, commenting that "The Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world"[38][39] The coalition stated "Russia, with its historic commitment to deep spirituality and morality, can be a hope for the natural family supporters from all over the world"[40] Jacobs commented that "The Kremlin used to be a no-no for conservatives," but added "We're going to redeem that building."[41]

In 2016 WCF rebranded with an umbrella organization called International Organization for the Family.[42]

WCF World Conferences[edit]

Edition Host City Year held Attendees
I Prague, Czech Republic 1997 700[28]
II Geneva, Switzerland 1999 1,600[43]
III Mexico City, Mexico 2004 3,300[44]
IV Warsaw, Poland 2007 3,900[45][46]
V Amsterdam, Kingdom of the Netherlands 2009 [47]
VI Madrid, Spain 2012
VII Sydney, Australia 2013 [48]
VIII Moscow, Russia 2014 (Cancelled)
IX Salt Lake City, United States 2015
X Tbilisi, Georgia 2016
XI Budapest, Hungary 2017 [49]
XII Chisinau, Moldova 2018
XIII Verona, Italy 2019
XIII Accra, Ghana 2019
XIV Mexico City, Mexico 2022 [50]

The meeting in Warsaw in May 2007 was to be addressed by Ellen Sauerbrey, at the time head of the United States Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, which provoked a letter from 19 Members of the European Parliament demanding that she should not go.[3][51]

The 2009 conference in Amsterdam met with some controversy when the government minister André Rouvoet addressed the congress despite requests from other Dutch Parliamentarians that he should not do so.[52] Their local offices were defaced with paint, obscenities and anti-Christian slogans by unknown vandals, but the WCF said they would not be intimidated by radical opposition. The WCF comprises Christian, Islamic, and secular leaders, and the Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands was scheduled to speak at the conference.[53]

Prior to the 2013 WCF conference, Sydney politician Alex Greenwich sought to ensure that the conference complied with anti-discrimination legislation.[54] One of the reports presented to the conference said that children raised in two-parent families do best at school.[55]

The 2014 WCF conference was scheduled to be held in September in Russia,[56] and was promoted as "the 'Olympics' of the international Pro-Life movement supporting the Natural Family".[57] Because of the annexation of Ukrainian Crimea by Russia, planning for the conference was suspended.[58][59]

Writer Masha Gessen attended the 2016 conference, and reported participants embracing white replacement worries expressed in the language of human extinction, and concerns that backers of gender ideology would overthrow the government—ideas described as conspiracy theories and moral panics.[60][61]

The 2017 WCF conference was held in Hungary. The right wing Prime minister of Hungary Viktor Orban spoke at the event.[62]

The 2019 WCF conference was held in March in Verona, Italy. The deputy prime minister and leader of the League Matteo Salvini spoke at the event with a speech that spanned topics from population decline to illegal immigration and a critique of feminism.[63] Scheduled speakers included Moldova's president Igor Dodon, Hungary's Families Minister Katalin Novak,[64] and Dmitri Smirnov, a senior figure in the Russian Orthodox Church.[65]

WCF Regional Conferences[edit]

In August 2014, the WCF held a regional conference in Melbourne Australia[7][66] that was met with protests.[67][68][69] The Senate of Australia passed a motion to condemn the conference after several MPs and government ministers announced their intention to speak at the conference and four successive venues refused to host the conference.[70][71] Federal social services minister Kevin Andrews was noted by the Senate as a recipient of the WCF's "Natural Family Man of the Year" award.[70][72] Four of these ministers later pulled out of the conference because the conference was hosted by the controversial Christian group Catch the Fire.[73][74][75] Kevin Andrews, who was the international ambassador for the 2013 conference, has been promoted as the international ambassador for the World Congress of Families.[a] After the conference, Andrews asked the WCF to remove a reference to him as "international ambassador" from their promotional material.[80]

The WCF held an African Regional Conference in Ghana in 2019.[81]



  1. ^ The Howard Center listed Andrews as an ambassador in 2013.[76] In March 2014 the WCF referred to Andrews as the international Ambassador:[77] The Age referred to marketing materials on July 15.[78] The Sydney Morning Herald made reference on July 25.[79]


  1. ^ "World Congress". Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  2. ^ Buss, Doris; Herman, Didi (2003). Globalizing Family Values: The Christian Right in International Politics. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9781452906447. As quoted in "About World Congress of Families 9". World Congress of Families. Archived from the original on 2016-11-10. Retrieved 2014-08-31. Feminist law professors Doris Buss and Didi Herman wrote, "In terms of international activism, it is through deployment of natural family discourse that the [Christian Right] has had the most success in forging global alliances with other religious movements."
  3. ^ a b *"American Conservatives Organize Social-Issues Conference in Poland". Fox News/Associated Press. 10 May 2007. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014. The chief organizer is a Rockford, Illinois-based conservative think tank, the Howard Center. Co-sponsors include more than 20 other U.S. groups allied in opposition to abortion, gay marriage and other policies they blame for weakening traditional families in Western Europe.
    See also DAVID CRARY (25 March 2014). "US Conservatives Suspend Plans for Moscow Meeting". Associated Press. A U.S.-based conservative group that supports Russia's efforts to curtail gay rights and abortion is suspending its plans for an international conference in Moscow
  4. ^ "worldcongress.org :: Home". worldcongress.org.
  5. ^ Davidson, Kevin (27 August 2014). "Kevin Andrews books out parliament room for anti-gay marriage conference: Social services minister won't attend 'strengthening the family' conference which has links to controversial Christian group". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014. The World Congress of Families is the global conservative Christian organisation which was scheduled to hold a controversial regional event in Melbourne this weekend
  6. ^ Kyle Mantyla (8 June 2008). "The World Congress of Families Chooses Its Destination". Right Wing Watch. People for the American Way. Retrieved 2014-08-31.
  7. ^ a b Di Stefano, Mark (22 August 2014). "World Congress of Families Throws Support Behind Anti-Gay Marriage Summit In Australian Parliament". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 29 August 2014.[unreliable source?]
  8. ^ a b c "HRC report examines World Congress of Families' anti-gay influence, extremism". LGBTQ Nation. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.[unreliable source?]
  9. ^ See, for example, this list of articles from Catholics for Choice: "Reports on Meetings Held by the World Congress of Families". CatholicsforChoice.org. Catholics for Choice. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2014. and this one from RH Reality Check, which dates back to 2007: "World Congress of Families". RHRealityCheck.org. RH Reality Check. Retrieved 30 August 2014. Similarly, SIECUS has been following WFC since at least 2004: "The Third World Congress of Families Convenes in Mexico". siecus.org. Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
  10. ^ a b "World Congress of Families Suspends Russia Conference". splcenter.org. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  11. ^ a b "SPLC Adds Seven New Organizations To Anti-Gay Hate Group List22". Truth Wins Out. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  12. ^ a b Michaelson, Jay (19 July 2014). "The Kremlin's Favorite Anti-Gay Hate Group is Coming to Utah". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  13. ^ "World Congress of Families Suspends Russia Conference". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Exposed: The World Congress of Families: An American Organization Exporting Hate" (PDF). Human Rights Campaign. June 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  15. ^ McKenzie, David; Princewill, Nimi (8 October 2021). "How a US group with links to the far-right may have influenced a crackdown on Ghana's LGBTQ community". CNN. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  16. ^ "These prominent Americans are speaking at far-right Russia conference linked to sanctioned oligarchs". Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  17. ^ Norris, Sian (2 March 2022). "Millions of Russian Roubles Funded Far-Right Discord in Europe". Byline Times. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  18. ^ Roonemaa, Holger; Laine, Martin; Weiss, Michael (24 March 2022). "Exclusive: Russia Backs Europe's Far Right". New Lines Magazine. Retrieved 24 March 2022. The WCF is sponsored by Malofeev and Vladimir Yakunin, yet another U.S.-sanctioned Russian oligarch.
  19. ^ Fineman, Martha; Worthington, Karen (2009). What Is Right for Children?: The Competing Paradigms of Religion and Human Rights. Ashgate. pp. 26–28. ISBN 9780754674191.
  20. ^ ":::THC-WCF:::". worldcongress.org. Archived from the original on 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  21. ^ Tétreault, Mary Ann & Denemark, Robert A. (2004). Gods, Guns, and Globalization: Religious Radicalism and International Political Economy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-1588262530.
  22. ^ "New HRC Report Exposes The World Congress of Families". Human Rights Campaign. 25 August 2014. Archived from the original on August 28, 2014.
  23. ^ "WCF: World Congress of Families: Press Release". profam.org.
  24. ^ Warren Thockmorton (August 21, 2011). "American Anti-Gay Campaign in Africa Opposes "Fictitious Sexual Rights"". Religion Dispatches.
  25. ^ ":::THC-WCF::: World Congress of Families IV: Warsaw, Poland 2007: The Howard Center". worldcongress.org. Archived from the original on 2013-11-16. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  26. ^ Safi, Michael (25 August 2014). "Kevin Andrews named 'Natural Family Man of the Year' by Christian group". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  27. ^ a b "In advance of Utah event, World Congress of Families says it's not an LGBT, hate group". Salt Lake City Tribune. July 14, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  28. ^ a b "Prague 1997: Convening Organizations". World Congress of Families. Archived from the original on 2002-11-04. Retrieved 2007-04-22.
  29. ^ "Jacobs finds support for international pro-family and pro-life movement in Moscow". Pro fam. World Congress of Families. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  30. ^ "Moscow Demographic Summit Ends with Demand for Governments to Adopt a 'Pro-Family Demographic Policy'". Christian News Wire. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  31. ^ Heterosexual marriage? I’m sorry, you can’t discuss that, Christina Odone, The Telegraph
  32. ^ "Law Society prevents free speech". Evangelical Times Newspaper. July 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  33. ^ Brydum, Sunnivie (15 Nov 2013). "Sen. Kirk Blocks Antigay Panel in Capitol Offices". The Advocate.
  34. ^ "Criminalizing Sex: Six U.S. Anti-Gay Groups Abroad". Dangerous Liaisons. Southern Poverty Law Center. August 2013.
  35. ^ "18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  36. ^ "Thank you to all World Congress Families Partners for your support". Archived from the original on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  37. ^ SOPHIA KISHKOVSKY (9 June 2011). "Russians Adopt U.S. Tactics in Opposing Abortion". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-08-31. Larry Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress of Families, based in Rockford, Illinois, attended the Sanctity of Motherhood forum and praised Russia's new activists as allies. He has met with Metropolitan Hilarion... Hilarion highlighted a vocal anti-abortion stance as a uniting factor between Russian Orthodoxy and Protestant evangelicals. He has said they should form a "strategic alliance" with Roman Catholics.
  38. ^ Miranda Blue (10 April 2013). "Globalizing Homophobia, Part 4: The World Congress of Families and Russia's 'Christian Saviors'". Right Wing Watch. People for the American Way.
  39. ^ Cole Parke (17 October 2013). "U.S. CONSERVATIVES AND RUSSIAN ANTI-GAY LAWS – THE WCF". Political Research Associates.
  40. ^ Dave Stalling (3 September 2013). "Op-ed: Which Americans Are Responsible for Russia's Hate". The Advocate.
  41. ^ DAVID CRARY (1 July 2013). "Some US Conservatives Laud Russia's Anti-Gay Bill". Associated Press.
  42. ^ Sainty, Lane; Feder, J. Lester (December 13, 2016). "Anti-LGBT Activists Launch New "International Organization For The Family"". BuzzFeed News.
  43. ^ Urquhart, Gordon (12 November 1999). "That's not faith, that's provocation". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  44. ^ "Mexico 2004: Convening Organizations". World Congress of Families. Archived from the original on 2002-11-04. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
  45. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (30 May 2007). "Jerry Falwell lives... in Poland". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  46. ^ Warsaw 2007 Archived 2009-06-20 at the Wayback Machine, World Congress of Families
  47. ^ "World Congress of Families V to be in Amsterdam". Christian Telegraph. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  48. ^ "World Congress of Families Starts in Sydney: Why Society Needs Strong Families". Mormon News Room. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.[permanent dead link]
  49. ^ World Congress of Families XI, The Budapest Family Summit, to be Held in Hungary, May 24–28, 2017 http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2973679059.html 20170619
  50. ^ "Home EN - Congreso Mundial de las Familias" (in Spanish). 2022-05-31. Retrieved 2022-12-14.
  51. ^ European leftists attack World Congress of Families, Catholic World News
  52. ^ Commentary: Exporting "Traditional Values", Political Research Associates
  53. ^ "Anti-Christian vandals target World Congress of Families meeting". Catholic News Agency.
  54. ^ Piotrowski, Daniel (24 April 2013). "Family fury: Controversial conference speakers anger gay community". News Limited. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  55. ^ "Two parents give an educational edge". Ninemsn. 16 May 2013. Archived from the original on 27 June 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  56. ^ Hannah Levintova (21 Feb 2014). "How US Evangelicals Helped Create Russia's Anti-Gay Movement". Mother Jones. Retrieved 30 Aug 2014.
  57. ^ Feder, J. Lester. "U.S. Conservatives To Go Ahead With "Pro-Life Olympics" In Moscow Despite Ukraine Crisis". WorldNewsPress. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  58. ^ "Planning for World Congress of Families VIII Suspended". Christian News Wire. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  59. ^ David Crary (25 March 2014). "US Conservatives Suspend Plans for Moscow Meeting". Associated Press.
  60. ^ "The Spread Of Antigay Ideology". KERA (FM). February 23, 2017.
  61. ^ Masha Gessen (March 2017). "Family Values: Mapping the spread of antigay ideology". Harper's Magazine. Vol. March 2017.
  62. ^ "Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's Opening Speech at the World Congress of Families XI Budapest Family Summit, Hungary". 4 October 2017.
  63. ^ "In Italy's city of love, global far-right groups join forces under a 'pro-family' umbrella". 31 March 2019.
  64. ^ Bonny, Rémy (2019-10-21). "Hungary Cooperates With Russia On Anti-LGBTI Issues". Rémy Bonny. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  65. ^ "Thousands join Congress of Families march in Italy". France24. 31 March 2019. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  66. ^ "Life, Family and Freedom" (PDF). Endeavour Forum. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  67. ^ "World Congress of Families: Controversial conference begins at Catch the Fire Ministries amid protests in Melbourne". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 Aug 2014.
  68. ^ "Protester storms stage at controversial World Congress of Families conference". The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 Aug 2014.
  69. ^ Davey, Melissa (30 Aug 2014). "Protesters block entry as World Congress of Families starts in chaos". The Guardian.
  70. ^ a b "Parlinfo Social Issues—World Congress of Families". Senate Hansard. Australian Parliament House. 28 August 2014. Senator Waters, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 391—That the Senate— (a) notes that: (i) the World Congress of Families is responsible for spreading: (a) homophobic and sexist prejudices around the world, including in Russia, the United States, and countries in Eastern Europe and Africa, and (b) harmful myths, including linking abortion with breast cancer and contraception with domestic violence, (ii) the World Congress of Families is holding a conference in Melbourne on Saturday, 30 August 2014, (iii) the Minister for Social Services (Mr Andrews) is planning to attend the conference and give an opening address, and has been awarded the 2014 Natural Family Man of the Year award by the World Congress of Families, and (iv) other state and federal Members of Parliament are also planning to attend the conference; (b) reaffirms the: (i) fundamental Australian values of equality, tolerance and non-discrimination, and (ii) value and dignity of all persons regardless of their gender, sexuality, or family status; and (c) calls on Members of Parliament not to attend the World Congress of Families conference. Question put and passed.
  71. ^ "World Congress of Families conference in chaos as venues decline to host". The Guardian. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  72. ^ Safi, Michael (26 August 2014). "Kevin Andrews named 'Natural Family Man of the Year' by Christian group". The Guardian. A conservative Christian group holding its annual conference in Melbourne this weekend has named the federal social services minister, Kevin Andrews, as its 2014 "Natural Family Man of the Year".
  73. ^ Davey, Melissa (28 August 2014). "Politicians pull out of conservative World Congress of Families conference". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  74. ^ Dan Harrison, Richard Willingham (August 29, 2014). "Kevin Andrews cancels plans to open World Congress of Families conference". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  75. ^ Davey, Melissa (30 Aug 2014). "Angela Lafranchi, who links abortion and cancer, stars at families congress". The Guardian.
  76. ^ Feder, Don (18 September 2013). "Kevin Andrews, Newly Appointed Australian Minister for Social Services, Writes for The Family in America". Howard Center Press Release. Archived from the original on September 4, 2014. Andrews also serves as a special World Congress of Families International Ambassador for the natural family.
  77. ^ "World Congress of Families News" (PDF). March–April 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 4, 2014. The Hon. Kevin Andrews MP, Australian Minister for Social Services and International Ambassador for WCF
  78. ^ Gordon, Josh; Aston, Heath (15 July 2014). "State Attorney-General Robert Clark to address hardline pro-life event". The Age. The conference, which will take place late next month, will be opened and closed by federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, who, according to the flyer for the event, is an international ambassador for the congress.
  79. ^ Aston, Heath (25 July 2014). "Ministers to join pro-lifer who believes the 'pill kills' at World Congress of Families". Sydney Morning Herald. Mr Andrews is an international ambassador for the World Congress of Families which is organised by a US-based group dedicated to preventing abortion and the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
  80. ^ Melissa Davey (2 September 2014). "Kevin Andrews asks World Congress of Families to stop using his name". Guardian.
  81. ^ "Home". wcfaccraghana.org.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]