The anti-gay group Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), based in west suburban Naperville and run by Peter LaBarbera, has been labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network
(GLN) lobbied the Law Center to list AFTAH as a hate group. SPLC's decision appeared in the most recent issue of the Law Center's quarterly publication, Intelligence Report.
According to AFTAH's Web site, the group is a "national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda." The group also teaches that many homosexuals can "leave behind homosexuality" by becoming born-again Christians. LaBarbera and AFTAH are frequently cited by Christian and conservative media including Dr. James Dobson's "Focus on the Family."
The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which works to fight discrimination, hate and bigotry and promote justice and equality, tracks hate groups and extremists across the country as a part of their mission.
The SPLC's criteria for labeling a group or organization as a hate group requires that the group spread discredited and slanderous propaganda.
According to GLN, LaBarbera's group continues to use the research of psychologist Paul Cameron, who has been condemned by every major professional psychological association.
"Getting LaBarbera's website labeled a 'hate group' is important because it helps assist the political marginalization of a man who has dedicated his career to denying others legal equality," said Bob Schwartz of GLN. "Through demonstrating against LaBarbera and his organizations over the years, GLN and others have made LaBarbera gain the reputation of being a bigot, and thus radioactive in many respectable circles."
LaBarbera has a long history in Illinois' anti-gay movement. Prior to founding AFTAH, LaBarbera lead the Illinois Family Institute, a group that worked to get anti-gay referenda on the Illinois state ballot. In 2006, he resigned from the Illinois Family Institute and re-launched his anti-gay message as Americans For Truth About Homosexuality.
Previously, the SPLC labeled the Illinois Family Institute as a hate group when they cited Paul Cameron as an "authority" on homosexuality.
The 47-year-old LaBarbera has also been employed by the anti-women's right organization, Concerned Women for America (CWA) and was a reporter for the conservative Washington Times newspaper.