US Christian conservatives have attempted to shape the country’s conversation on LGBT rights through their locally registered affiliates. An investigation by “Bellingcat Anti-Equality Monitoring” suggests that Steve Weber, longtime head of the Ukrainian branch of the Christian Broadcasting Network, a US media juggernaut, initiated the creation of the “Alliance Ukraine for Family”, a “pro-family” umbrella organisation whose members run nationwide anti-LGBT campaigns and oppose anti-discriminatory changes to laws. Public records in Ukraine link Steve Weber to American veteran pastor turned lobbyist Dale Armstrong who in 2018 was involved in an effort to oust US Ambassador Yovanovitch. In 2015 CBN and American Pastors Network, a self-described “network of biblical and faith based pastors and church liaisons ” inserted themselves into the discussion about the possible introduction of marriage equality anti-discriminatory protections for LGBT people into Ukraine’s Constitution. CBN Ukraine introduced American conversion therapy practitioners to Ukraine through its CBN Family Academy project initiated by Weber. It remains active to this day. A CBN spokesman told Bellingcat that the network “regrets the lapse in oversight” regarding its Ukrainian affiliate. This year has seen several blows to LGBT rights in Ukraine. In June, the Law Enforcement committee of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, voted down a proposed law which would have enhanced liability for hate crimes and hate speech motivated by anti-LGBT bias or bias on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The following month, a draft bill was submitted to parliament proposing a ban on “homosexual propaganda”, a term used by opponents of LGBT rights to denote all and any LGBT events in public. “Participation in public LGBT life in Ukraine is becoming more dangerous,” concludes the 2020 report by the LGBT Human Rights Nash Mir Centre, a Ukrainian NGO. Threats to the advance of LGBT rights in Ukraine, and activists come alongside growing ties between anti-LGBT forces and transnational religious conservative groups, who are uniting in common cause. While recent reports by Right Wing Watch, openDemocracy, Buzzfeed and others have drawn attention to the involvement of influential American conservatives in Ukraine, Bellingcat’s findings suggest that may play an even greater role than previously understood. An investigation by Bellingcat conducted throughout 2019 and 2020 suggests that an important node in this new network is CBN Ukraine, the Ukrainian branch of the Christian Broadcasting Network, an American media giant.

via bellingcat: How American religious conservatives fought LGBT rights in Ukraine