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World Congress of Families Lists Speakers for Upcoming Gathering

Below is a list of speakers for the upcoming meeting of the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families in Verona, Italy. To read the full story about the gathering, click here.

· Lorenzo Fontana, Italian minister for family and disability. Fontana, a far-right Catholic, is a member of the right-wing Lega Party. He has spent years building coalitions between that organization and foreign far-right parties, including Front National in France. The Italian website Il Post has described Fontana as “the most right-wing minister of the new government.” Fontana has claimed that same-sex marriage and changing concepts of gender would “wipe out our community and our traditions.” He has also said that same-sex couples who have children via surrogacy abroad should not be recognized as legal guardians.

· Marco Bussetti, Italy’s minister for education, universities and research. Bussetti blocked an anonymous survey from the University of Perugia meant to poll teenagers on a range of topics pertaining to LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and migration issues. He also approves of installing crucifixes in Italian classrooms. Bussetti works closely with Generazione Familigia, which partnered with Madrid-based anti-LGBT group CitizenGO in a campaign against “gender” in schools that featured CitizenGO’s anti-trans bus tour.

· Federico Sboarina, mayor of Verona. Sboarina is a member of the Forza Italia party, considered center-right. Sboarina was criticized in 2017 by the International Publishers Association in Geneva over his plan to remove books and publications from libraries and municipal or contracted schools that depict same-sex unions in a positive light. Sboarina has presided over other anti-LGBT actions, such as cancelling a 2017 LGBTQ event slated for the historic Tocatì festival, calling it “unsuitable content.” In 2018, city councilors passed a motion declaring Verona officially “pro-life.”

· Gloria, Princess of Thurn and Taxis (born Countess Gloria von Schönburg-Glauchau). Known for her partying ways in the 1980s (“Princess TNT”), she became a more devout Catholic in the 1990s following the death of her husband. A friend of Pope Benedict and, more recently, American far-right figure Steve Bannon, she once said that the high rates of AIDS in Africa was not because of a lack of safe sex practices, but because “blacks like to copulate.” She also believes that homosexuality is “against nature.”

· Archpriest Dmitri Smirnov. One of the Russian Orthodox Church’s most prominent officials, he said in 2017 that “there is very little time left until the death of the entire Christian civilization” because Islam will sweep the continent, and the young men willing to die for Islam “don’t want to live in a state ruled by homosexuals.” Smirnov heads the Patriarchal Commission on the Family and the Protection of Motherhood and Childhood, which works closely with WCF.

· John Eastman, law professor at Chapman University. Eastman also serves as chairman of the board of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage. Over the years, he has referred to homosexuality as “barbarism”; voiced support for Uganda’s harsh anti-LGBT bill that would impose life sentences in some instances; and claimed that “a good portion of this [LGBT] movement seeks to remove age of consent so they can have sex with teenage boys.”

· Reverend Jim Garlow, formerly of California megachurch Skyline Church. Garlow is currently based in Washington, D.C., where he ministers to lawmakers, ambassadors and federal government employees. He is also a member of President Trump’s evangelical advisory board. Garlow has a long history of anti-LGBT activism and statements, like claiming that Satan is using homosexuality to destroy God’s image on Earth, and that it’s a “demonic happening in our midst.” In February, he was apparently asked to skip a Bible study event at the Israeli parliament because it coincided with an annual LGBT event and there were fears of a PR disaster for Garlow.

· Theresa Okafor, president, Foundation for African Cultural Heritage in Nigeria. A staple of WCF gatherings, Okafor is the organization’s African regional director. She has advocated for and supported harsh anti-LGBT laws that support prison terms for gay sex and that ban LGBTQ people from meeting in groups.

· Babette Francis, president of the anti-LGBT and anti-choice Endeavour Forum in Australia. The Forum was set up as “a response to militant feminism” and to combat abortion. Francis has in the past linked the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church to homosexuality, and supported harmful ex-gay therapy. The Forum has, over the years, posted anti-LGBT materials, including the research of anti-LGBT pseudoscience purveyor Paul Cameron and a list of why same-sex marriage is “harmful”. She has also stoked the fires of anti-Muslim “stealth Islamization” conspiracy, compared Islam to Nazism and said Christians need to “liberate” the world’s Muslims from Islam via conversion.

· Mike Donnelly, director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association. HSLDA’s founder and former chair was Michael Farris, currently president of anti-LGBT hate group Alliance Defending Freedom. HSLDA has opposed the federal non-discrimination act, which would protect sexual orientation and gender identity. HSLDA lobbied in 2006 against same-sex marriage and in 2015, following the legalization of same-sex marriage in the US, released a statement claiming dire consequences for the “rights of parents, families, and others.”

· Robert Siedlecki, former senior counsel with the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives with the U.S. Department of Justice. Siedlecki worked closely with the Sam Brownback administration in Kansas as social and rehabilitation secretary, but stepped down after less than a year in office following a tenure “marked by controversy over administrative decisions and the governor’s policies,” according to Kansas.com, which included criticism over Siedlecki’s reorganization of management, plans to close some offices and pursuit of religious social services initiatives.

 

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