Metro Weekly reporter Chris Geidner unearthed the disturbing story that Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) will soon be able to say that its programming is supported by funding provided to it by the World Bank.
Requirements include that the organization have “a substantial local presence in the Greater Washington metropolitan area.”
However, PFOX fails to fulfill this criteria and may be guilty of attempting to defraud the World Bank. The organization is based in Reedville, VA — placing the town 127 miles — and a two hour and forty minute drive — southeast of the nation’s capitol. Indeed, Richmond is significantly closer to Reedville and is a mere 85 miles away from PFOX’s headquarters.
“It is factually incorrect to say that PFOX has a ‘substantial local presence in DC’,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Either PFOX is committing fraud against the World Bank, or they are receiving special rights from the organization and inexplicably allowed to pass as a local organization.”
The truth is, PFOX does not meet in the area and has almost no local footprint, other than an occasional lobbying foray or an advertising buy. The Washington City Paper confirmed that PFOX has no local DC presence in a 2009 report, “The Ex-Gay Movement That Wasn’t”. According to the news report:
Unfortunately for PFOX and reporters on the sexual-orientation beat, ex-gay Washingtonians are hard to come by. Since each of my dozen or so calls to PFOX headquarters went unanswered, I am unable to confirm any of the group’s purported ex-gay offspring or friends. J. Matt Barber, a member of the PFOX board of directors, tells me that he has “a number of very close friends who are former homosexuals”—none of whom live in D.C.
“The World Bank needs to answer why it is bending the rules to accommodate an ideological organization that, under any objective measure, does not meet the criteria of working in the DC metro area,” says TWO’s Besen. “It is outrageous that PFOX tried to pull a fast one and they should immediately pull the plug on this scheme. We call on The World Bank to launch a thorough investigation to see if PFOX and some World Bank employees conspired to misrepresent PFOX’s location in an effort to defraud the bank.”
PFOX also does not list any legitimate chapters in DC or Virginia. The only “contact” e-mail listed in DC or VA is that of the national organization.