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US: Conservative panel notes LGBT rights growth, seeks hope in overseas fightback

Attendees say Russia's 'gay propaganda' law is being misrepresented in the media: report

World Congress of Families founder Allan Carlson. Credit: worldcongress.org

Participants in a panel discussion held in a Capitol Hill meeting room in Washington, DC, are looking abroad to countries like Russia in a bid to find hope amidst what they see as their increasingly beleaguered conservative movement, BuzzFeed reports.

Spearheaded by the World Congress of Families (WCF), the discussion, Family Policy Lessons from Other Lands: What Should America Learn?, was initially supported by Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk, who subsequently withdrew access to a Senate meeting room after learning about its proposed content. John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, then stepped in and secured new space for the group in a House meeting room, a move that drew the ire of LGBT advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign.

In its report, BuzzFeed said attendees defended Russia's nationwide "gay propaganda" law enacted in June, echoing Vladimir Putin's statements that its measures are not meant to stop LGBT people from living open lives, but to prevent children from being "exposed" to or "taught" homosexuality. Even as they criticized the media for what they see as a misrepresentation of the law's intent, participants acknowledged that there are those who are "doing bad things to LGBT people" in Russia, the report says.

In addition to the passage of the so-called propaganda of homosexuality laws, both federally and in a number of cities and regions, Russia has passed a measure to prohibit adoption of Russian children by foreign gay couples. In addition, Russian lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlev recently proposed, then reportedly withdrew, a bill that calls for the removal of children from gay parents but intends to introduce a revised version of the measure in the future. Zhuravlev's bill proposed to make “nontraditional sexual orientation” a valid basis for depriving gay people of their parental rights.

The laws have ignited global condemnation of Russia's deteriorating civil liberties environment ahead of the Sochi Winter Games, set to begin in February.

BuzzFeed also notes that the Capitol Hill panellists sought to reinvigorate their resolve to keep fighting for their movement in the US in the face of legislative defeats and a more progressive public opinion. The report quotes one activist as saying that "a vicious totalitarianism" is "loose" in the United States.