Extreme Christian conservatives targeting LGBT rights, humanists tell UN

25 June, 2024

Humanists UK has voiced its concern at the UN Human Rights Council that American Christian fundamentalist groups are funding global advocacy to undermine LGBT rights.

Humanists UK has already raised alarm with the UK Government over the growing influence of ‘dark money’ and other funding from American sources in UK politics. This funding is particularly influencing debates on abortion, LGBT rights, assisted dying, and faith schools. Recent investigations have highlighted the activities of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a US-based Christian advocacy group, which has doubled its spending in the UK. This includes covering the expenses of the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Fiona Bruce MP.

Global influence of American conservative Christianity

However, this problem is not limited to the UK. Former special rapporteur on the right to freedom of religion or belief Dr Ahmed Shaheed has stated that politicians and advocates citing religious justification to discriminate against women, children, and LGBT people can be found all over the world.

In an interactive dialogue with Graeme Reid, the UN’s Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Humanists UK welcomed his report which states that so-called ‘moral disapproval’ even when widespread cannot be used to undermine fundamental human rights. 

The intervention was delivered via video by Humanists UK representative William Mulroy. 

Humanists UK said:

‘We remain deeply concerned by the findings of openDemocracy in 2020, that Christian fundamentalists in the United States have been able to influence policymakers by spending over $280 million on global advocacy against same-sex marriage, comprehensive sexuality education, and the human rights of LGBT people more broadly.

‘Their total spending is understood to have increased considerably since then. In the UK, politicians have been funded by American groups pushing Christian conservatism in the name of ‘religious freedom’. This phrase falls short of the standard human rights wording of ‘freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief’ and is used to undermine the rights of children, of women – especially in relation to their reproductive freedom – and of LGBT people.’

He called on the Independent Expert to reiterate Dr Shaheed’s recommendations for states to affirm that religious attitudes must not be used to justify violations of human rights.

further information
Previous Humanists UK report on the influence of US dark money in British politics.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 0203 675 0959.

Read the full intervention.

Read our story on the influence of American ‘dark money’ in UK politics.

Read more about our international work.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.