A number of groups opposed to LGBT
rights participated in a three-day religious freedom conference
organized by the U.S. State Department.
According to the Washington Blade,
the Family Research Council (FRC), Liberty Counsel, Faith and Action,
the Heritage Foundation, Concerned Women for America (CWA), Alliance
Defending Freedom International and the James Dobson Family Institute
helped organize or participated in the conference.
FRC President Tony Perkins participated
in a workshop on Thursday that focused on U.S. government grants.
Perkins, a vocal opponent of LGBT rights, has close ties with the
Trump administration and the Republican Party.
FRC, Alliance Defending Freedom and
Liberty Counsel have been labeled “hate groups” by the Southern
Poverty Law Center (SPLC) over their anti-LGBT rhetoric.
Harry Samuels, a policy adviser for the
American Jewish World Service, attended the conference. In a
statement given to the Blade, Samuels criticized the
participation of such groups.
“The administration intentionally
conflates honorable efforts to protect religious minorities from
violence with using ‘religious conscience’ to legitimize
discrimination against LGBTI people and deny sexual and reproductive
health services to women and girls around the world,” said
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International
Religious Freedom Sam Brownback spoke at the conference. Each has
expressed opposition to LGBT rights.
Pence's views on LGBT rights “frighten” Ian McKellen.)