An Australian cabinet minister, a British lawyer, and a Venezuelan activist are among those who will be honored later this year by the World Congress of Families (WCF), the U.S.-based global organization that opposes LGBT and abortion rights.
WCF made headlines over the last year for appearing to align itself closely with the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, planning a summit for September 2014 to be held in the Kremlin that it dubbed the "'Olympics' of the international Pro-Life movement supporting the Natural Family," with funding by close Putin allies. The group announced it would postpone the event, which brings together social conservatives from around the globe, in late March, a month after Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
Australian Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews will be named 2014's "Natural Family Man" by the organization. Andrews, who was named social services minister by Prime Minister Tony Abbott following his election in August 2013, has long been a vocal opponent of abortion rights and marriage equality. He argued that countries should have "an explicit marriage and family policy" in his 2012 book, Maybe 'I Do': Modern Marriage and the Pursuit of Happiness, in which he asserted that marriage equality could lead to polygamy.
"Once the state can no longer insist that marriage involves a commitment to a member of the opposite sex, there is no ground (other than superstition) for insisting that marriage be limited to one person rather than several," he wrote.
Andrews will be receiving the award alongside British activist Michelle Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern, who will receive an award for organizational development. Williams recently sparked controversy for urging anti-LGBT activists to argue that homosexuality is connected to pedophilia during a visit to Jamaica in December.
WCF will also present a lifetime achievement award to Christine Vollmer, who was born in California but built her career in Venezuela. Vollmer, who has been active in family policy inside the Catholic church — serving for a time as a member of the Vatican mission to the United Nations and as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family — founded the Latin American Alliance for the Family.
In a 2013 interview, Vollmer said that the spread of LGBT rights protections in Latin America could lead to an explosion of HIV and provoke a backlash.
"I think that when people realize that these activists are trying to impose on their children an awareness of unnatural behavior that does lead to the whole AIDS problem, people are going to get very angry," she said in a phone interview. "f you teach kids in a barrio that these [homosexual] acts, that they feel good, we're going to have people dying of AIDS like flies.... What they call 'gay marriage' is a piece of paper that says we get to have a nice ceremony, we each get to have a nice bunch of flowers, and we get to have these partnership benefits — that's not going to stop them from being promiscuous."
WCF's announcement of the awards did not specify why the honorees were chosen. Filipino politician Francisco Tatad and Nigerian activist Theresa Okafor will also receive awards later this year. A date and location for the ceremony has not yet been determined, since the group is still reorganizing since suspending its Moscow summit.
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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