In the latest sign that the U.S. Religious Right increasingly views its anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice activism as part of a global culture war, American activists will be part of the training team at next month’s European Advocacy Academy, which is designed to make European advocates for “traditional” views on sex, gender and family more effective—and to make them “part of an international network that transcends country borders.” U.S.-based Religious Right groups have actively promoted anti-LGBTQ equality measures in Europe under the banner of protecting the family.
Among the speakers at the November 22-25 training session:
- Ron Nehring, director of international training at the Leadership Institute, a training organization founded in 1979 by right-wing activist Morton Blackwell. The Leadership Institute reported spending $15.8 million in 2016. A longtime right-wing activist, Nehring was national spokesman for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.
- Mark P. Campbell, also affiliated with the Leadership Institute, is a conservative political consultant who was national political director for Ted Cruz’s presidential bid.
- Andreas Thonhauser is director of communications for the international arm of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Religious Right legal organization that has been designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Ignacio Arsuaga of Spain is founder of HazteOir and president of the CitizenGo Foundation. Hazte Oir and CitizenGo mobilize social conservatives through online organizing; earlier this year they teamed up to promote an anti-transgender bus and billboard campaign. Arsuaga is a close ally of Brian Brown, head of the National Organization for Marriage and the International Organization for the Family, who also serves on CitizenGo’s board.
- Željka Markić is president of In the Name of the Family, which pushed a marriage-restricting referendum in Croatia in 2013. She is also an initiator of Mum, Dad, and Kids, an effort to undermine legal protections for LGBTQ people and families within the European Union. She traveled to South Africa last December to help Brian Brown launch the International Organization for the Family and its anti-LGBTQ manifesto, the Cape Town Declaration.
The European Advocacy Academy is organized by European Dignity Watch, a Brussels-based nonprofit group founded in 2010 that says it “defends the most vital foundations of a free society: fundamental freedoms and responsibility, marriage and the family, and the protection of life from conception to natural death.”
Among those appearing in European Dignity Watch’s promotional video is board member Sophia Kuby, a cofounder and former executive director of the group who is now director of EU advocacy for ADF International. She also took part in this year’s World Congress of Families in Budapest, and in April’s Political Network for Values gathering in Brussels, the theme of which was “How Far Can We Get?”