A conference ostensibly meant to showcase “family policy” reveals how anti-LGBTQ groups have embraced strong-family rhetoric to push their agenda of intolerance.
The Hungarian Embassy in Washington hosted the Second International Conference on Family Policy on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. The conference brought together government officials from the United States, Brazil and Hungary, including Joe Grogan, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
But the conference also included some of the stalwarts in the anti-LGBTQ movement. The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam), which has called LGBTQ people “sexual fascists,” and the Heritage Foundation, which has hosted anti-transgender panels this year, sent representatives to the conference.
The event showcased a growing international network of right-wing groups that call themselves “pro-family” – so long as family has a narrow definition of a man and a woman while excluding or marginalizing LGBTQ rights, according to Jessica Stern, executive director of the LGBTQ human rights organization OutRight Action International.
“Groups such as C-Fam and the Heritage Foundation advocate for only one form of legitimate family – heterosexual, cis-gender, married couples with children – and position anyone who falls outside this narrowly defined norm as not only unacceptable, but even threatening,” Stern said in a statement emailed to Hatewatch.
Stern noted that these groups “are central players in the global export of an anti-choice and anti-LGBTIQ agenda across the globe.” Hosting a conference at the Capitol with support from the Trump administration, members of Congress and government representatives from Brazil and Hungary “is incredibly dangerous,” she said.
“This gives the stamp of approval for their hateful agenda, and signals an ever growing, and increasingly coordinated, attack on the human rights of LGBTQ people and women across conservative civil society and state lines.”
Neither the Hungarian Embassy nor the White House responded to repeated requests for comment regarding the purpose of this week’s event, the kinds of families included in their policies or the involvement of anti-LGBTQ groups.
In addition to Grogan, another White House official, Valerie Huber, senior policy adviser for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Global Affairs, also participated. U.S. Reps. Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, and Vicky Hartzler, a Missouri Republican, attended as well, according to an event flyer tweeted by Stefano Gennarini of C-Fam.
The gathering further cements the cozy relationship anti-LGBTQ groups have with the Trump administration. Tony Perkins, president of anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC), was appointed in 2018 to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Earlier this year, he was elected chair.
And in August, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech in Arlington, Virginia, to an event by the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.
Donald Trump and Pence became the first sitting president and vice president to address the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Alex Azar was also the first sitting secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to address the group when he did so this year. Trump made a return appearance at that summit as well.
The Hungarian Embassy held an event in March similar to the December conference called “Make Families Great Again” at the Library of Congress in Washington. That gathering also included Trump administration officials and representatives from C-Fam, the Family Research Council and anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Watch International.
The anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion religious right has particular interest in Hungary and its policies that provide incentives for big families via heterosexual marriages and an emphasis on Judeo-Christian religious traditions. Anti-LGBTQ hate group World Congress of Families held its 2017 annual gathering in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Katalin Novák, Hungary’s minister of state for family and youth affairs, led the organizing committee for the event, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán addressed the conference.
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