February 15, 2017 at 1:02 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Anti-LGBT legal organization designated a hate group

Chile, gay news, Washington Blade

The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief in the case of a lesbian judge from Chile who lost custody of her children because of her sexual orientation. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2012 ruled in her favor and the Chilean government reached a settlement with her that included a formal apology. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Southern Poverty Law Center on Wednesday announced it has designated an anti-LGBT legal organization as a hate group.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based in Montgomery, Ala., describes the Alliance Defending Freedom as “a legal advocacy and training group that specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally.” The Southern Poverty Law Center on Wednesday also released a series of anti-LGBT statements that current and former Alliance Defending Freedom staffers and their supporters have made.

“[C]ontrol of the educational system is central to those who want to advance the homosexual agenda,” said then-Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Piero Tozzi in a speech he gave at the World Congress of Families’ 2012 conference in Madrid. “By its very nature, homosexual acts are incapable of bearing fruit – indeed, strictly speaking, they are not sexual, as they are incapable of being generative or procreative. Thus there is the need to desensitize and corrupt young minds, both to undermine resistance to the agenda and for recruitment among those that are at an emotionally vulnerable stage of development.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed dozens of religious freedom lawsuits in the U.S. and challenged efforts to protect transgender students in public schools. The organization also represented Prince William County (Va.) Circuit Clerk Michèle McQuigg, who was a defendant in the Bostic case that challenged Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

J. Caleb Dalton of the Alliance Defending Freedom last September testified against a proposal that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Prince William County School Board’s nondiscrimination policy. He told members of the school board that he represents a woman who alleges a man sexually abused three of her adopted children.

“And in the course of the now hundreds of cases the Alliance Defense Fund has now fought involving this homosexual agenda, one thing is certain: There is no room for compromise with those who would call evil ‘good,’” said then-Alliance Defending Freedom CEO Alan Sears at World Congress of Families’ 2012 conference in Madrid, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Alliance Defending Freedom in 2003 defended laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual acts in a brief it filed in the Lawrence v. Texas case. The U.S. Supreme Court that year ruled that such statutes are unconstitutional.

Group opposes efforts to repeal anti-sodomy laws

The Southern Poverty Law Center in 2013 criticized the Alliance Defending Freedom over its support of a campaign that defended Belize’s anti-sodomy law. Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin of the Belize Supreme Court last August ruled the colonial-era statute is unconstitutional.

Caleb Orozco, gay news, Washington Blade

Caleb Orozco, an LGBT rights advocate who challenged Belize’s sodomy law, speaks with the Washington Blade at the lower Manhattan offices of OutRight Action International on Sept. 21, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Alliance Defending Freedom Global Director Benjamin Bull in 2013 applauded the Indian Supreme Court ruling that recriminalized consensual same-sex sexual behavior. Tozzo and Brian Raum, a lawyer who has previously worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom, earlier that year filed an amicus brief with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Karen Atala, a lesbian judge in Chile who lost custody of her three daughters to her ex-husband because of her sexual orientation.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2012 ruled in favor of Atala. The Chilean government subsequently apologized to her, paid her $70,000 and offered medical and psychological treatment.

Piezo in 2011 spoke at a Jamaica conference organized by a group that supports the country’s anti-sodomy law. Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has an openly lesbian sister, in January 2016 reiterated his opposition to marriage rights to same-sex couples at an Alliance Defending Freedom event in New York.

The Southern Poverty Law Center notes Bull traveled to Russia in 2014 as a member of the planning committee for a World Congress of Families conference that was scheduled to take place in the country.

Organizers cancelled the conference after the U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions against Russia in response to the annexation of Crimea and other military interventions in Ukraine. Mother Jones reported the conference took place under a slightly different name.

The Southern Poverty Law Center notes committee members met with Yelena Mizulina, a state Duma deputy who introduced a bill banning the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed in 2013. Former President Obama in 2014 signed an executive order that allowed officials to freeze Mizulina’s U.S. assets in response to the Kremlin’s interventions in Ukraine.

The Organization of American States, which created the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, accredited the Alliance Defending Freedom in 2014. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights have also recognized the organization.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told the Washington Blade on Wednesday during a conference call with reporters that the Alliance Defending Freedom has “failed in the effort to keep homosexuality outlawed in this country.”

“[It] has resorted in the wake of the 2013 Lawrence decision to exporting its hatred to other countries,” he said.

The Blade has reached out to the Alliance Defending Freedom for comment.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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