Brian Brown, head of the National Organization for Marriage and the International Organization for the Family, officially announced this week that the World Congress of Families will hold its 2018 global summit in Moldova. President Igor Dodon, who had said back in November that the summit was headed to his country, joined Brown in making this week’s announcement.
Brown praised Dodon for leading a “rejuvenated spirit in defense of traditional values.” Brown may be referring to the government shutting down a peaceful march by LGBTQ activists last May, while Dodon told journalists, “I have never promised to be the president of the gays, they should have elected their own president.” The LGBTQ group had faced counter-protesters led by Orthodox priests; the Orthodox Church in Moldova has strongly opposed passage of anti-discrimination laws.
Brown and other American Religious Right leaders adore anti-LGBTQ politicians and national leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, even as those leaders have dismantled democratic institutions, quashed dissent, and suppressed religious freedom.
Putin has made a strategic alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church, promoting Orthodoxy as central to Russian identity while suppressing minority religions. In return, the church has backed his presidency, and Religious Right fans of Putin’s anti-gay policies have portrayed him as the savior of Christian civilization.
Russian news agency Tass had noted the WCF’s plans a few weeks ago and reported that “Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I has accepted the invitation from President Igor Dodon of Moldova to make a pastoral visit to the republic” during the WCF. “Dodon said Kirill I and he had discussed the importance of protecting and consolidating the traditional family values in the Orthodox Christian countries.”
“This is particularly important today, as Christian values are undergoing an amassed devaluation,” he said.
“I stressed Moldova’s role of a stronghold of the Orthodox Christian world and an advance guard in struggle for Christian values,” Dodon indicated. “The Orthodox Church is a most authoritative institute of Moldovan society today.”
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The main sponsors of World Congress of Families are Konstantin Malofeyev and Vladimir Yakunin, two conservative Russian oligarchs with close ties to the Kremlin who finance Russia-friendly and Christian Orthodox initiatives in former Soviet countries and in the West.
Moldovan media reported last summer that Dodon met Malofeev in Athos, Greece, in August 2017, and asked him to finance the event in Chisinau, and also asked for the Russian Patriarch Kirill to attend the event.
The SPLC reported last year that Dodon “has increasingly hardened his anti-EU stance, and realigned himself with Russia.” Moldova hosted an anti-European Union conference of far-right “Eurasianists” last May. Among WCF figures in attendance were Russian Alexey Komov—an associate of Malofeev, a billionaire Orthodox oligarch who has visions of making Putin a Tsar—and Levan Vasadze, who organized WCF’s 2016 global summit in Tbilisi, Georgia, at which he bitterly denounced the West.
Dodon, an ally of Putin, recently vetoed a bill passed by pro-European Union members of parliament that was meant to curb pro-Russian propaganda. He has been repeatedly suspended by the constitutional court. SPLC called WCF’s plan to hold the 2018 summit in Moldova “another indication of the international anti-LGBT network’s appropriation by Russian strategic interests.”
The World Congress of Families is a global network of organizations that resist LGBTQ equality, abortion rights and sex education in the name of “traditional” views on gender, sex, marriage and family. It holds an annual global summit and multiple regional gatherings organized by local affiliated organizations. WCF operates as a project of IOF, which launched in late 2016 with a manifesto against “the ideological colonization of the family.”