Two longtime opponents of the U.S. gay-rights movement on Friday announced formation of a coalition that will seek to persuade more countries around the world to follow Russia's example in passing laws that restrict gay rights.
The activists, Massachusetts-based evangelical lawyer Scott Lively and Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, praised two recently enacted Russian laws that have been assailed by gay-rights supporters worldwide. The protests have intensified amid Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
One law seeks to prevent gays and lesbians from adopting children, while the other — a ban on so-called gay "propaganda" accessible by minors — is seen as a deterrent to public expressions of gay-rights sentiment.
"By taking these steps in the face of intense criticism and hostility ... the Russians have demonstrated the high value that they place on their children and the natural family model of society," the newly formed Coalition for Family Values said. "We believe that God will bless the Russian people for their faith and courage."
Lively and LaBarbera said the new coalition will encourage allies abroad to lobby their own governments to follow Russia's example.
"While the LGBT agenda has seemed like an unstoppable political juggernaut in North America and Europe, the vast majority of the people of the world do not accept the notion that sexual deviance should be normalized," their statement said.
The formation of the coalition was assailed by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.
"Americans aren't buying the hate these anti-LGBT extremists are selling, so they've been forced to take their take their dangerous rhetoric abroad," said HRC president Chad Griffin. "These radicals are now traveling from country to country advocating for the persecution of LGBT people under the guise that they're saving children."
Among the groups joining the coalition were Lively's Defend the Family International, the American Family Association of Pennsylvania and Mission:America.
Lively conducted a 50-city speaking tour of Russia in 2007, and says the gay propaganda bill — enacted last year — reflects policies that he advocated at the time.
Lively is being sued in U.S. federal court by a Uganda-based gay-rights group, accusing him of persecuting gays in that East African country.
The suit contends that he was a key figure in consultations in Uganda that produced tough anti-gay legislation in 2009. A version of that bill is expected to be signed soon by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
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