The World Congress of Families IV ended on Sunday with Allan Carlson, of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society calling on the audience to make 2008 the real year of the international family by taking grassroots action to lobby parliamentary members to adopt policies that promote the natural family, criminalize abortion and further marginalize lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender citizens.
Despite the lower than desired media coverage and a lower than desired turnout of less than 3,000 people, the WCF organizers have accomplished what they ultimately set out to do—create a network of conservative civil society and parliamentarians who can influence European policy both at the national level and throughout the European Union. Unlike previous World Congresses whose aim was often to build cultural support for right-wing ideals, this WCF had a clear legislative goal from the beginning and several national (MP) and European Parliamentary members (MEP) were present throughout the conference, including Ana Zaborska (Slovakia), Head of Women's Rights and Equality Commission, and Carlo Casini (Italy), Head of Committee on Legal Affairs.
In conjunction with the standard WCF program of speakers and sessions on conservative social and cultural issues, this year the organizers also hosted an Inter-Parliamentary Forum that brought together 50 national and European Parliamentary Members from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, France, and the United Kingdom to strategize on how to achieve the "globalization of pro-family ideals." Additionally, over 100 European Parliamentary members signed a declaration in support of the Congress and its conservative ideals. Presented to the audience as a response to the letter from 19 European Parliamentary leaders for Ellen Sauerbery not to attend, the declaration was read by Catherine Vierling of the European Forum for Human Rights and Family, one of the many right-wing groups already lobbying the European Parliament to change its policies.
Each World Congress of Families has ended with the adoption of a declaration. The Warsaw Declaration which called on governments to adopt pro-family policies was presented along with an encouragement to make 2008 the real year of the family—an idea that seems easy for the mainly Polish audience. Since, as one Polish sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate said when I asked her why there was not a bigger protest to the conference, "every day in Poland is family day." That is exactly what the WCF organizers want to hear.