Anti-Gender Mobilization and Right-Wing Populism, Eastern Europe and Beyond

The anti-gender movement is a well-networked transnational phenomenon, a global countermovement against gender equality. Unlike earlier waves of anti-feminist backlash, it operates by demonizing the very concept of gender: “gender ideology” is compared to totalitarian systems & described as a threat to Judeo-Christian civilization. The campaigns begin as interventions in specific policy debates. They target sex-education, same-sex marriage, legal abortion, divorce, trans-rights and the Istanbul Convention. The populist frame is persistently employed: propagators of “gender ideology” are presented as corrupt elites, enemies of the common man. This facilitates alliances between religious & non-religious actors. This paper examines the historical sources of this movement, its key aims and strategies & the synergy between religious fundamentalists & right-wing populist parties. It also explains why Eastern Europe holds a special place in the anti-gender movement’s imaginary & its strategy.