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Why is Alliance Defending Freedom a Hate Group?

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) first listed Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as an anti-LGBTQ hate group in 2016. 

The SPLC lists ADF as a hate group because it has supported the idea that being LGBTQ+ should be a crime in the U.S. and abroad and believes that is OK to put LGBTQ+ people in prison for engaging in consensual sex. It has also supported laws that required the forced sterilization of transgender Europeans.

ADF has spread lies about the LGBTQ+ community. It has, for example, linked being LGBTQ+ to pedophilia and claimed that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy society. ADF tries to couch its rhetoric in benign-sounding phrases, but the truth is that it works to dehumanize LGBTQ+ people and restrict their rights for being who they are.

ADF has played a role in the passage of religious exemption laws that lead to discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, such as Mississippi’s HB 1523, and has litigated lawsuits that target transgender students in public schools by denying them access to bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities and attempting to ban transgender women from competing in women’s sports. ADF is one of the groups pushing legislation on the state level — including Idaho’s HB 500, which was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little in March 2020 — as part of a nationwide campaign to exclude transgender girls and women in school sports and deny their identities. ADF is not only attempting to erase transgender people through its litigation and policy work but by deliberately misgendering them in media and on its website.

Anti-LGBTQ hate groups, like ADF, often try to justify their opposition to LGBTQ+ rights with rhetoric and harmful pseudoscience that demonizes LGBTQ+ people as threats to children, society and, often, public health. 

In 2019, the SPLC documented a sharp increase in the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups — a 43% increase over 2018. 

The SPLC defines a hate group as an organization that, based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities, has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics. The organizations on our hate group list vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity — prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines. The FBI uses similar criteria in its definition of a hate crime.

Here is more information about ADF and why it is a hate group:

Alliance Defending Freedom

ADF Through the Years

Yes, the FRC and ADF Are Hate Groups. Here’s Why!

Anti-LGBTQ ideology

Explore our Hate Map—In 2019, we tracked 940 hate groups across the U.S.

FAQ on Hate groups


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