World Congress of Families

The World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies (WCF) is a transna­tion­al net­work of con­ser­v­a­tive and right-wing activists who pro­mote a tra­di­tion­al, het­ero­sex­u­al fam­i­ly mod­el and oppose LGBT rights, repro­duc­tive rights, and gen­der equal­i­ty. The WCF has been active in Rus­sia since 2011, when it hired Alex­ey Komov as its region­al rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Since then, the WCF has forged close ties with Russ­ian Ortho­dox oli­garchs, politi­cians, and church lead­ers, and has advanced Russ­ian polit­i­cal inter­ests in Europe and beyond.

The WCF’s involve­ment in Rus­sia reached its peak in 2014, when it planned to hold its annu­al con­gress in Moscow. How­ev­er, due to the inter­na­tion­al sanc­tions imposed on Rus­sia after its annex­a­tion of Crimea and its involve­ment in the Ukrain­ian civ­il war, the WCF’s Amer­i­can lead­er­ship pub­licly with­drew from the event. Nev­er­the­less, a near­ly iden­ti­cal con­fer­ence took place under a dif­fer­ent name: “Large Fam­i­lies: The Future of Human­i­ty”. The con­fer­ence fea­tured many of the same speak­ers and spon­sors as the WCF con­gress, includ­ing Komov and sev­er­al promi­nent Russ­ian fig­ures who were sanc­tioned by the US and EU.

The con­fer­ence also attract­ed some Amer­i­can par­tic­i­pants who were sym­pa­thet­ic to Rus­si­a’s con­ser­v­a­tive agen­da. One of them was a young woman named Eliz­a­beth Mitchell, who claimed to have been harassed by US author­i­ties upon her return. She wrote to Komov about her ordeal and asked for his help. Komov for­ward­ed her email to sev­er­al WCF lead­ers and allies, includ­ing Bri­an Brown, pres­i­dent of the Nation­al Orga­ni­za­tion for Mar­riage (NOM), an anti-LGBT group that also works close­ly with the WCF.

Mitchel­l’s email reveals how the WCF serves as a bridge between Russ­ian Ortho­dox polit­i­cal inter­ests and Amer­i­can Chris­t­ian evan­gel­i­cal net­works. The WCF not only pro­motes a com­mon vision of fam­i­ly val­ues across nation­al and denom­i­na­tion­al bor­ders but also facil­i­tates con­tacts and exchanges between influ­en­tial actors on both sides. The WCF thus con­tributes to the rise of a glob­al right wing that chal­lenges lib­er­al democ­ra­cy and human rights.


- Stoeckl K (2020) The rise of the Russ­ian Chris­t­ian Right: The case of the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies. Reli­gion State Soci­ety 48(4):223–238.

- Barthéle­my H (2018) How the World Con­gress of Fam­i­lies serves Russ­ian Ortho­dox polit­i­cal inter­ests. South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter Hatewatch.

- Human Rights Cam­paign (2014) Exposed: The World Con­gress Of Fam­i­lies — An Amer­i­can Orga­ni­za­tion Export­ing Hate.