British government proposals for strengthening free speech at universities cite an American anti-LGBT ‘hate group’ and a British ‘dark money’-funded think tank that has recommended no-platforming Extinction Rebellion.
The hate group is the Alliance Defending Freedom, which you may remember from its campaign against Scotland’s hate speech laws, or its witnesses in the case that banned puberty blockers for trans teenagers.
The ADF is viciously anti-LGBT+, as its its fellow Christian Right organisation the Heritage Foundation. That has its hooks in the UK government too: in the same month equalities minister Liz Truss decided to ignore public support for GRA reform, she was a guest speaker at a Heritage-funded event. Both groups have pretty obvious links to the highest profile anti-trans groups here too, and are often deeply involved in the legal cases aimed at removing trans people’s healthcare and human rights.
ADF International has spent more than £410,000 on lobbying in the UK since 2017. Last year, openDemocracy revealed that its US parent organisation has spent more than $21m of dark money outside of the US since 2008. The group does not disclose who its donors are, and has gone to the US Supreme Court to defend donor secrecy.
ADF International’s UK office has publicly opposed protest-free ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics, supported calls for “freedom of conscience” provisions to enable medical staff to independently object to providing legal abortion services and were linked to a supposedly ‘grassroots’ campaign opposing assisted dying.
…ADF supports a ‘legal army’ that fights hundreds of court battles around the world, often using freedom of expression and religious freedom arguments.
The organisation has also taken legal action to support opponents of same-sex marriage and a Canadian pastor accused of hate speech for criticising “the promotion of homosexuality”.
The US group has also become increasingly involved in funding disputes in UK universities. In 2019, it threatened legal action against a Scottish student union council after it decided not to recognise an anti-abortion student group.
This money is perverting our politics in an attempt to take human rights backwards.