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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

Anti-Gender Movements in Europe: Between Catholicism and Populism

Comparative Politics
Contentious Politics
Social Movements
David Paternotte
Université Libre de Bruxelles
David Paternotte
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Roman Kuhar
University of Ljubljana

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.
In this paper, we examine how the 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 paper offers an overview of a transnational and comparative research project which focuses on national manifestations in eleven European countries, including Russia. It insists on the intersections of religious politics with rising populism and nationalistic anxieties in contemporary Europe.
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