National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown and Scott Strim, an American evangelical who opposes efforts to repeal Belize’s sodomy law, spoke at the World Congress of Families Caribbean Regional Conference that took place at a resort on the Caribbean island on April 8-9. Josh and Caroline Craddock of CitizenGO, which describes itself as a “community of active citizens” who use “online petitions and action alerts as a resource to defend and promote life, family and liberty,” were among those who were also present.
An agenda posted to the conference’s website indicates that Brown was scheduled to speak on a panel titled, “Marriage as a public good: Why we should defend marriage as between one man and one woman.”
Packed house at World Congress of Families Caribbean Conference in Barbados. pic.twitter.com/44rJEgJ70B
— Brian S. Brown (@briansbrown) April 8, 2016
Ro-Ann Mohammed, co-founder of Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination who attended the conference “undercover,” told the Washington Blade on Sunday during a Skype interview that less than 100 people attended the two-day event.
Mohammed said that Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family, who wrote the book “Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth,” spoke at the conference’s closing ceremony on April 9.
“I was looking forward to his presentation,” Mohammed told the Blade. “But when he spoke he sort of shifted all blame from the church and he said that he knows for a fact that no Christian family treats their LGBT son or daughter or relative with disdain.”
Mohammed added that Stanton said Christians “are by no means responsible for the attempted suicides or the suicide rates of LGBT youth.” She added that he also stressed that “a lot of LGBT youth attempt suicide to seek attention.”
“It was just very problematic stuff,” said Mohammed.
Conference ‘reeked of imperialism’
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designed the World Congress of Families as a hate group.
Mohammed told the Blade that those who presented at the conference also spoke against abortion and contraception. She said the majority of those “who were the most problematic were extreme conservatives” from the U.S. and Canada.
“It was very, very discouraging,” Mohammed told the Blade. “It was interesting to see how everyone sort of ate up the rhetoric.”
“It reeked of imperialism a little,” she added. “They sort of came and spoke with an air of superiority.”
Mohammed specifically singled out the Craddocks.
“They did not know how to pronounce a lot of the names of the Caribbean islands,” noted Mohammed. “They were talking about the fact that they have done a lot of work to repeal the abortion legislation that is currently in place in Barbados.”
Speakers ‘weren’t denouncing’ anti-LGBT discrimination
Barbados is among the Caribbean countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.
Roughly 2,000 people attended what Mohammed described as a “pro-family” rally last November. Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination organized a counter-protest and launched a media campaign against it with the help of AllOut, a global LGBT advocacy group.
Mohammed told the Blade a handful of people who “weren’t in favor of the fact that this very conservative, very hateful group was there spreading messages of hate,” gathered outside the conference. She said resort personnel asked them to leave the property.
Mohammed said that reporters asked a conference organizer for comment.
“She said she had no time to speak on this,” Mohammed told the Blade. “They shut the doors and went inside.”
Mohammed said those who spoke at the conference said, “We need to stop things in their tracks” because “if we’re not careful than the LGBT people will take over and they will lose all of their religious freedom.”
“They were saying all of this, but they weren’t denouncing discrimination against LGBT people, which is very sad,” Mohammed told the Blade. “In the Caribbean discrimination is rampant. There are no laws to protect LGBT people from hate crimes. Violence is rampant.”
“Misogyny, transphobia, homophobia is rampant throughout the region,” she added. “The fact that the religious institutions weren’t denouncing it, but they were trying to promote intolerance is very harmful.”
Human Rights Campaign Global Director Ty Cobb in a statement his organization released last week said the World Congress of Families “provides a platform for some of the most virulently anti-LGBT extremists from around the world.”
Theresa Okafor, a World Congress of Families representative from Nigeria, was among those who were scheduled to speak at the Barbados conference. HRC in its press release noted that Okafor previously compared LGBT people to Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group that has killed tens of thousands of people in northeastern Nigeria since 2009.
“The World Congress of Families focuses on bringing in the most notorious anti-LGBT activists from around the world, leaving harm and discrimination in their wake,” said Cobb.
Neither the World Congress of Families nor the National Organization for Marriage has returned the Blade’s request for comment.