Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe: Mobilizing against Equality

Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe: Mobilizing against Equality
Edited by Roman Kuhar and David Paternotte


After decades of steady progress in terms of gender and sexual rights, several parts of Europe are facing new waves of resistance to a so-called ‘gender ideology’ or ‘gender theory’. Opposition to progressive gender equality is manifested in challenges to marriage equality, abortion, reproductive technologies, gender mainstreaming, sex education, sexual liberalism, transgender rights, antidiscrimination policies and even to the notion of gender itself.

This book examines how an academic concept of gender, when translated by religious organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church, can become a mobilizing tool for, and the target of, social movements. How can we explain religious discourses about sex difference turning intro massive street demonstrations? How do forms of organization and protest travel across borders? Who are the actors behind these movements? This collection is a transnational and comparative attempt to better understand anti-gender mobilizations in Europe. It focuses on national manifestations in eleven European countries, including Russia, from massive street protests to forms of resistance such as email bombarding and street vigils. It examines the intersection of religious politics with rising populism and nationalistic anxieties in contemporary Europe.


An essential reading to better understand the widespread reactionary backlash in today’s Europe. This book is a much-needed wake-up call. While anti-gay marriage movements have long been regarded as anecdotical, the authors show how deep their cultural and religious roots are. This meticulous account is an important step towards reinventing minority rights across European borders. (Bruno Perreau, Cynthia L. Reed Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

In this well-documented comparative study, the authors offer country by country analyses and evidence of international collaborations in campaigns against gender equality. They provide striking new insight into the way the epithet “gender ideology” has become a powerful instrument on the European political scene, wielded by coalitions of right-wing Catholics, Protestant evangelicals, and populists to protect “traditional” sex roles and to challenge the institutions of democracy. (Joan W. Scott, Institute for Advanced Study)

‘Gender Ideology’ fracases now erupting in Europe and Latin America constitute key sites in which to examine how the ‘said return of the religious’, sexual politics and the crisis of democracy are deeply imbricated today. Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe is a superb cartography of these imbrications in twelve Western and Eastern European countries. It finely charts contextual differences without losing sight of the significant transnational implications of these politics, particularly in what concerns the role of the Catholic Church. (Sonia Correa, Research Associate at the Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association for AIDS and co-chair of Sexuality Policy Watch, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) via