Activist instrumental in the launch of the LGB Alliance linked to anti-abortion and anti-LGBT+ hate groups

A leading activist involved with the launch of the ‘anti-trans’ pressure group LGB Alliance, Gary Powell, slammed Supreme Court judge Lady Hale for supporting a woman who was left infertile by NHS negligence.

The court’s decision awarded the woman half a million pounds in damages, after she won her claim that the NHS should pay for her to start a much-longed for family via surrogacy.

Powell wrote that Lady Hale was guilty of “overreach” in backing the woman, saying that her starting a family by using a surrogate would “lead to an increase in the physical, emotional and financial harm caused to vulnerable women”.

Powell, a long-time campaigner against surrogacy, was at the pre-launch event for LGB Alliance where “all members had agreed a foundation statement which prioritised biological sex over gender theories which they regard as ‘pseudo-scientific and dangerous'”, according to The Telegraph.

He was one of the signatories of a key petition sent to Stonewall – asking the LGBT+ charity to “reconsider its approach to transgender policy” – which sparked the creation of the LGB Alliance, and he has been an ardent supporter of the group ever since.

In fact, when the group launched in October 2019, Powell was one of those posting from the LGB Alliance’s social-media accounts – an assertion he made publicly and that went unchallenged by its founders.

On the LGB Alliance’s Facebook page on October 25, Powell reminded supporters that “our Twitter handle is @AllianceLGB”, adding that he had been “on Twitter this afternoon where I’d posted on @AllianceLGB”.

Gary Powell asking his followers to support the LGB Alliance on social media.

As well as his views on “aggressive gender extremists”, Powell’s view is that surrogacy is a “human rights violation similar to the sale of human organs” and “an unacceptable LGBT+ rights objective”.

Surrogacy is legal in the UK, as long as it doesn’t involve payment, and has been the route to starting a family for many LGBT+ couples.

The UK government “supports surrogacy” for gay couples, which, unlike adoption, provides a way for one or both parents to be biologically related to their child.

LGB Alliance activist Gary Powell and Center for Bioethics and Culture Network.

Through his work opposing surrogacy, Gary Powell has ties with religious, right-wing organisations in the US that oppose equal marriage and access to abortion – despite the LGB Alliance regularly claiming not to be connected in any way to the US religious right.

The LGB Alliance’s code of conduct states that it will “not forge links with” organisations “whose aims we consider to be fundamentally hostile to the rights of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, or that seeks to undermine women’s reproductive rights”.

The group also regularly asserts on social media that it doesn’t have links with, or accept funding from, the US religious right.

But Powell is the European special consultant for California-based nonprofit the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network (CBC).

CBC is a US organisation that frequently appears at conferences and events held by right-wing groups discussing restricting abortion rights.

It was founded by Jennifer Lahl, a non-Orthodox Christian, who also shares LGB Alliance posts on social media and wrote in 2003: “It is the role of the church to be involved in personal and individual decision making.

“Prime examples are issues such as infertility and reproductive technologies.”

Gary Powell and the Heritage Foundation.

On May 6 last year, Powell spoke on a panel at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative, anti-abortion think-tank in the US that opposes same-sex marriage.

The panel was called ‘Casualties of Surrogacy: Women for Rent, Infants for Sale, LGBT Rights for Hijacking’, and Powell spoke alongside his boss, CBC founder Jennifer Lahl.

Lahl and Powell argued that commercial surrogacy is “always exploitative” and harmful to women, with Powell reminding the audience that, as a gay man, he opposes surrogacy for LGBT+ couples and the inclusion of surrogacy into “gay rights priorities“.

Public Discourse is the journal of right-wing thinktank the Witherspoon Institute.

Center for Bioethics and Culture and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Jennifer Lahl regularly argues against surrogacy – including in Geneva in 2019, on a panel organised by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

ADF is an evangelical Christian law firm labelled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

Founded by leaders of the Christian Right, ADF opposes equal marriage, has said that LGBT+ people are more likely to be paedophiles, and lobbies against access to women’s healthcare and improvements in LGBT+ rights.

The ADF is behind several anti-trans legal cases in the US, which seek to bar trans people, especially trans women, from playing sports and using public bathrooms.

Lahl also speaks at “pro-life” conferences in the US, including alongside Charlotte Pence, daughter of homophobic US vice president Mike Pence.

In 2015, Lahl made a guest appearance on the weekly podcast of the North Carolina Family Policy Council – another organisation that campaigns against women’s rights, including access to abortion – to talk about “the dangers of surrogacy for women and children”.

Gary Powell and Jennifer Lahl speaking at the Heritage Foundation in 2019. (Screenshot)

The CBC and the ADF are both part of a network set up by Novae Terrae, a foundation that lobbies against abortion and same-sex marriage and connects right-wing groups internationally.

In 2017, a Guardian investigation found that Novae Terrae received over two million dollars in laundered money from Azerbaijan – via shell companies set up to obscure the source of the funds – to “peddle political influence throughout Europe”.

As well as his work for CBC, Powell writes for Public Discourse, the journal of the Witherspoon Institute – another conservative US thinktank that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage.

On its website, Public Discourse states that: “The second pillar of a decent society is the institution of the family, which is built upon the comprehensive sexual union of man and woman.”

LGB Alliance and Gary Powell did not return PinkNews’ request for comment.

Update: Since publication of this article, the CBC has been removed from the aforementioned Novae Terrae network as they were included without prior approval or knowledge.