FORMER Prime Minister TONY Abbott travelled to the US last night to address the Alliance Defending Freedom, a far-right Christian lobby group.
The Republican-aligned group opposes abortion, hopes to end marriage equality, and lobbies to defund the US sexual health provider Planned Parenthood.
[showads ad=MREC] According to The Australian, Abbott will address more than 150 UN ambassadors and diplomats as part of an attempt by the alliance to influence policymakers.
“Our overall objective is to inspire and motivate member state representatives at the highest political levels to remain staunch defenders of the traditional family in the face of immense pressure from the UN-system and other member states’’, the alliance told The Australian.
The group believes the religious freedom of US Christians is “threatened” by marriage equality and funds lawyers that seek to challenge the US Supreme Court ruling in June 2015.
In recent years, the alliance has itself begun initiating litigation and now hosts a substantial legal division.
The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a major US advocacy organisation, reports that the group has a budget of over “$USD30 million ($AUD43 million), a staff of 44 in-house lawyers and 2200 allied lawyers”.
The alliance also played a role in attempts to block President Barack Obama’s healthcare initiative by arguing that religious institutions should not be compelled to facilitate employees’ access to health insurance that covers contraception or abortion.
Abbott’s address to the alliance comes days after the former PM announced his renomination for his seat of Warringah, fueling reports the right wing of the Liberal Party believe he could be reinstated.
The speech also marks one in a series of attempts by Abbott to stake his position as Australia’s most prominent social conservative.
“I have been heartened by the support and encouragement I’ve received to continue to serve the country as a member of parliament,” Abbott said in a statement on Saturday.
However, his sister, Christine Forster – a supporter of marriage equality and an out lesbian City of Sydney Liberal councillor – told Fairfax Media she was “disappointed” to hear about her brother’s speech.
“On the face of it, and without knowing what he is going there to say, it is disappointing,” she said.
The founding president of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Alan Spears, is co-author of the 2003 book The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Liberty Today, and has argued against positive depictions of non-traditional families on TV.
The alliance has also previously hosted the Day of Truth, which was held on college campuses “to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective” and encouraged students to see homosexuality as a sin.[showads ad=FOOT]