The controversial conference began on Friday and ran until Sunday in the northern Italian city.

The meeting has caused division among Italy’s coalition government, with the nation’s ruling parties taking entirely different stances on it.

While Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini addressed the congress on Saturday, his counterpart, Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement (M5S) denounced the organisation’s values and refused to take part in the event.

“The vision defended by this congress in Verona is a vision of the world that belongs for the most part to the Middle Ages, which considers women as submissive,” Di Maio said.

The WCF is a US coalition that promotes the values of the Christian right. 

The Guardian reported that those who attended the Verona conference include: “Brian Brown, the WCF president who fought against same-sex marriage in the US; Theresa Okafor, a Nigerian activist who likened gay people to the Boko Haram terrorist group; Lucy Akello, a Ugandan politician who helped pass an anti-gay law that sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for homosexuality in Uganda; and Alexey Komov, the Russian representative of WCF who allegedly has close ties to the League”.
Masses of feminists and LGBT activists from several European countries marched through Verona’s city centre to protest the ultra-conservative policies of the movement.
Activists flocked from as far as Britain, Croatia, Germany, Poland and Switzerland to state their opposition to the congress. 

Many sang Bella Ciao, an anthem of the Italian resistance during World War II, and banners were emblazoned with slogans including “Our bodies and our desires, it’s we who decide” and “Let’s not return to the Middle Ages”.
Local newspapers estimated the turn-out to be between 20,000 and 30,000 people. 

Organisers put the figure nearer 100,000.

“Monstrous” initiative

On Saturday, delegates attending the conference were handed rubber models intended to resemble a foetus at 10 weeks, carrying the message “Abortion stops a beating heart”.

Laura Boldrini, a former president of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, slammed the initiative and described it as “monstruous”.
The day’s program also featured the launch of a committee calling for a referendum on abolishing Italy’s abortion laws. 

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978.

Show of support on Sunday

While protesters on Saturday were marching against the congress and its values, it was a completely different story on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of people turned out to show their support for the conference on its final day.

Photo: ANSA

Participants in the city of Verona carried pink and blue balloons and signs with slogans such as “Yes to life, not to abortion”, according to local media.
Supporters travelled by train and coach from all over Italy to attend the march.
Before the protest began at around midday, those gathered listened to a message from the organisers of the congress.

“The family, fundamental pillar of our society, must be at the centre of government policies,” organisers said in their closing statement.