Metro Weekly

“Eliminate Hate” campaign seeks to expose anti-LGBTQ hate groups

Initiative will also seek to hold media accountable when reporting on designated hate groups

Judy Shepard, Photo: Priorities USA / YouTube

A new campaign is being launched to discredit anti-LGBTQ groups and pressure media to label them “hate groups.”

The Eliminate Hate Campaign is being spearheaded by a coalition of organizations, including National Center for Transgender Equality, the National LGBTQ Task Force, SoulForce, the Equality Federation, The Matthew Shepard Foundation and Media Matters for America.

They will seek to challenge the credibility of various anti-LGBTQ organizations, mitigate the influence they have in forcing lawmakers to pass anti-LGBTQ laws or regulations, and to dispel some of the negative myths about LGBTQ people.

“I have seen firsthand what can happen as a result of hate — and how it feels to have the hate and discrimination people face dismissed or denied,” said Judy Shepard, founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, named after her son who was killed in 1998.

Shepard focused her remarks on Alliance Defending Freedom, a right-wing organization that has been behind various anti-LGBTQ laws or initiatives both in the United States and abroad. The group has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Domestically, ADF has been linked to a number of so-called “Privacy Acts” — or “bathroom bills” — that seek to restrict transgender people’s access to restrooms and other public facilities.

ADF has also argued in favor of keeping bans on consensual adult sodomy in place, arguing that gay sex is a “public health problem,” and has defended the right of states to pass “religious freedom” laws that allow people to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Recently, the organization’s international arm sought to intervene in a lawsuit brought before the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that nations should be allowed to require the forced sterilization of transgender people who wish to legally change their gender marker.

“The Alliance Defending Freedom is a hate group, through and through,” Shepard said. “For years, they have spread lies about the LGBTQ community and put the rights of all LGBTQ Americans in danger. Enough is enough. It’s time our institutions — especially the media — start recognizing the extremely corrosive effects of their slander and act accordingly.”

The Eliminate Hate Campaign will also target media outlets that do not hold anti-LGBTQ hate groups — those that spread “demonizing lies about the LGBTQ community, engage in baseless, incendiary name-calling, or actively work to criminalize LGBTQ people” — to the same standards as they would groups that are anti-Semitic, racist, or who spread misinformation about other classes of people.

For instance, the coalition wants journalists who report on those groups’ activities to provide their readers with context, including historical background on the groups’ other anti-LGBTQ actions.

“The Eliminate Hate Campaign seeks to ensure that anti-LGBTQ hate groups are not given a megaphone for vitriolic bullying and malicious lies,” Erin Fitzgerald, LGBTQ program director for Media Matters. “Media outlets ignore long-standing histories of hate speech, incitement, and misinformation when they fail to label designated hate groups, and instead describe them as simply ‘conservative’ or ‘Christian.'”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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