The ADF was instrumental in rolling back abortion rights in the United States through a decision in the US Supreme Court in 2022. (Photo: Matt Hrkac,

Discrimination is not a fundamental freedom

Do not let US far right lobby groups pervert the meaning of human rights

In May Corporate Europe Observatory released the results of an investigation we undertook into the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an ultra-conservative US organisation with an international arm called ADF International, that attacks LGBTQ+ and abortion rights worldwide. 

In the article we documented their role in undermining abortion right around the world and their multi-pronged attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. We also outlined their support, through the Project 2025 coalition laying the base for mass deportation of migrants in the US, and their networking with far right political parties in Europe. Most of the results of the investigation are presented in detail in an op-ed on EUObserver.

In response to our investigation, Adina Portaru of the ADF Brussels office (the entity set up by the organisation to lobby the European Parliament), has written a letter to the EUObserver with a simple message: it isn’t true. While we would have enjoyed refuting the ADF’s arguments, it is a little difficult in this case. Their ‘reply’ said nothing about what we have written that is not true. Instead Adina Portaru wrote that the ADF is an organisation that “stands for every individual’s right to live in accordance with their beliefs in Europe and beyond.” They merely “champion fundamental freedoms”. That we can comment on!

But what are those fundamental freedoms they champion? Is the ADF a human rights group? Certainly not. It would be more accurate to say they are on a mission to pervert the whole concept of human rights. 

In her letter, Portaru highlights the ADF’s support for a Finnish politician on trial for hate speech, but avoids – as ADF often does – any mention of what this politician actually said. In a comment on  a Pride Festival in her country, the politician said “shame and sin are raised as a matter of pride…”. She has also called homosexuality a "disorder of psychosexual development", and allegedly labelled gay people “dysfunctional”. Defending that kind of bigotry in the name of free speech is a stretch - this is when freedom of speech becomes freedom of hate speech. 

In the same vein, the ADF has campaigned for decades to deprive women of their right to control their own bodies, dubbing abortion “the greatest human rights violation of our time.” Under that slogan they have made significant contributions to the abolition of the right to abortion in the US at federal level. The ADF has also expressed pride in their efforts to reduce the right to abortion in Poland, to the extent that it is now almost non-existent. Women are dying as a consequence. 

Given the rightward drift of European politics, it is time to call the ADF out. We should not fall for their efforts to claim that the ‘fundamental freedoms’ they champion are synonymous with human rights. We should certainly never cede them space to redefine human rights. One of the places to begin is the European Parliament. It is crucial to be aware that over the years the ADF has managed to build strong relations with several political parties at EU level, not least the ECR party group which is now much stronger after the recent European elections. Hopefully, other MEPs will not take this lightly, and will not fall for ADF’s pretense. 


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