After years of vilifying gays as disease-prone and child molesters, the website of the Naperville-based anti-gay organization Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) recently became listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network (GLN) lobbied the Law Center to list AFTAH as a hate group so that its lies against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people could be exposed to public scrutiny and condemnation. The listing appeared in the most recent issue of the Law Center’s quarterly publication, Intelligence Report.
The criteria that the Law Center historically has used to determine whether or not an organization is a hate group is not merely that it opposes legal equality for gays or others, but whether or not they intentionally utilize discredited and slanderous propaganda to spread lies about a group of people. By repeatedly using the phony “research” of defrocked psychologist Paul Cameron, who is roundly condemned by every major professional psychological association, AFTAH’s website apparently met the Law Center’s definition of a hate group.
The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks neo-fascist and other hate groups in the United States and when such groups violate the rights of others, often files suit against the hate groups. Several years ago, the Center briefly listed the Illinois Family Institute as a hate group when it listed Cameron’s discredited “research” on its website.
The Illinois Family Institute was founded and formerly headed by anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera. After a series of defeats, most notably two spectacularly failed attempts to get anti-gay referendum on the Illinois state ballot, in 2006 LaBarbera was apparently forced to resign from the Illinois Family Institute, where upon he upon he re-launched Americans For Truth About Homosexuality and his rhetoric against gays has gotten even more unhinged.
Prior to his stint with the Illinois Family Institute, LaBarbera was employed by the anti-women’s rights organization, Concerned Women for America (CWA). Before joining CWA, he was employed as a reporter for the far-right Washington Times newspaper during the early years of the paper when it more tightly reflected the views of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, cult leader of the far right “Moonies” sect.
“Getting LaBarbera’s website labeled a ‘hate group’ is important because it helps assist the political marginalization of a man who has dedicated his career to denying others legal equality,” said Bob Schwartz of the Gay Liberation Network. “Through demonstrating against LaBarbera and his organizations over the years, GLN and others have made LaBarbera gain the reputation of being a bigot, and thus radioactive in many ‘respectable’ circles. This most recent victory, getting the Southern Poverty Law Center stamp of disapproval for LaBarbera’s website, makes it less possible for him to garner support for future anti-gay legislation and initiatives.”