On March 1, 2023, the website NewsPunch published an article with the headline "WEF Says It's Time To Legalize Sex and Marriage With Animals To Promote Inclusion." The article claimed:
The World Economic Forum has ordered infiltrated world governments to take immediate steps towards a controversial new initiative that should have every right-thinking person up in arms.
The World Economic Forum is now calling for people to have the right to marry animals in an effort to promote diversity and inclusion.
The claims were untrue. They appeared to be inspired by a proposed animal-abuse-prevention bill in Spain, legislation the article references. NewsPunch is a rebrand of Your News Wire, which was a notorious junk news site. In July 2018, Poynter described Your News Wire as "one of the most popular fake news publishers in the world."
We reached out to the the World Economic Forum (WEF) about the claims. "This is a fake story that aims to discredit the important work that the World Economic Forum does on serious global challenges," spokesman Yann Zopf wrote in an email. "The World Economic Forum never made such claims and has no authority and also no intention to give orders to governments and other institutions or individuals."
The WEF has long been the target of conspiracy theories. For example, the organization proposed a set of public health and economic proposals for countries to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic to create "a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous future." Those proposals became the basis for "The Great Reset" conspiracy theory, which advocates unfounded accusations that international elites were using the COVID-19 pandemic to create a global totalitarian regime.
The WEF has no formal authority over governments. "It must convince others to advance chosen causes and enact suggestions, rendering its position quite fragile," according to "Discrete Power," a 2018 book written by professors Christina Garsten and Adrienne Sörbom about the organization.
NewsPunch's article claims a "pro-zoophilia" bill in Spain decriminalized having sex with animals. Snopes wrote about the proposed bill and found it's more complicated than critics claim.
In February 2023, the lower house of the Spanish Congress passed a measure to amend a portion of criminal code regarding animal abuse. In our story, we wrote, "In large part, this controversy is caused by imprecise language. While many Spanish legal experts disagree that the law legalizes or decriminalizes bestiality, some have concerns that the new wording could, at least theoretically, make it harder to convict some individuals for sexual acts with animals."
The Senate must approve the measure before it becomes law, and we'll update this fact check if, or when, that happens.
The NewsPunch article also included a Twitter post from far-right commentator James Lindsay. "Pox on bestiality!" the post claimed above an image created to look like an online news article. The headline read, "Why Spain's new legalization of sex with animals is a triumph for inclusion and diversity, explained." The Pox "article" was supposedly written by someone named "Winston Smith."
Pox on bestiality! pic.twitter.com/8t8jKe4qI1
— James Lindsay, tried lol (@ConceptualJames) February 26, 2023
"Pox" is a parody of Vox, using its graphic design and website layout. A newsletter signup for "Future Perfect," an authentic Vox vertical, can be seen in the image. Winston Smith is the main character of George Orwell's "1984."
Lindsay has made several similar "Pox" posts, including one with the headline, "Diversity plane crashes are a likely effect of diversity in aviation, here's why they're worth it."
The NewsPunch article ends by suggesting a conspiracy theory that "global elites" would include pedophilia or zoophilia as part of the LGBTQ+ "rainbow movement." The theory uses the same rhetoric as "The Great Reset" conspiracy theory.
False claims linking the LGBTQ+ community to bestiality are not new. In 2018, a conspiracy theory claimed the "B" in "LGBTQ" stood for bestiality. The "B" stands for bisexuality. In 2019, a Wyoming state legislator allegedly compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia.