‘Anti-gay group’ to hold 2015 convention in Salt Lake City

Posted at 10:38 PM, Jul 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-02 16:25:18-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Human Rights Organizations call the World Congress of Families an anti-gay hate group and they're coming to Salt Lake City next year.

The group's backers include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the conservative think-tank, Sutherland Institute.

The World Congress of Families is a global group.

The Sutherland Institute is organizing what they call a celebration but not everyone feels that way.

"I think it's very disappointing," said Steven Ha, the Executive Director of the Utah Pride Center.

The global group with close ties to Utah has picked Salt Lake City to host a conference, centered on celebrating what they describe as the natural family, but not everyone is thrilled about their venue or their cause.

"We feel like this group, their platform is religious fundamentalism, that promotes a narrow definition of the human family and therefore can sometimes can distort the definition of a great human family that comes in the practice of compassion, and love that is very expansive and diverse," Ha said.

The World Congress of Families is a global network of organizations, which some human rights advocates say condemns homosexuality.

The group's headquarters in Illinois is listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate map. Its members include Stanford Swim, a trustee of the Sutherland Institute. Elder Dallin Oaks, one of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, in the LDS Church is listed as an Honorary Member.

"I think it comes as a shock that there is an association between the church and this group that other law centers have dubbed this group to be a hate group," Ha said.

The LDS Church released a statement saying:

"Although the Church wasn't involved in the decision of the World Congress of Families to come to Salt Lake City, we appreciate the efforts of organizations working to strengthen the family and society."

"It's not to be anti-anything," said David Buer, spokesman for Sutherland Institute.

The conservative think-tank is organizing the conference, which will include speakers, musicians and scholars who will shine a light on traditional marriage.

"It's a great opportunity for Salt Lake City to get on the world stage for such an important event on a topic that's really front and center in American society and across the world," Buer said.

Sutherland says there's nothing hateful about the conference.

"It's a celebration with all that is good with traditional marriage," Buer said.

The conference will take place in 2015 in October at the Little and Grand America Hotels. They anticipate at least 3,000 people to attend.