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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

Religion and Gender Politics: The Political Entrepreneurship of the Lithuanian Catholic Church in the Ratification Process of the Istanbul Convention

Political Activism
Augustė Nalivaikė
Kaunas University of Technology
Augustė Nalivaikė
Kaunas University of Technology

Lithuania signed the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) in 2013 but ratification efforts continue to date. During the last six years, the Convention has increasingly become a political “hot potato” subject to passionate public and partisan debates. In this ideological confrontation between social liberals and conservatives, the Catholic church not only took up the conservative side, but also became a de facto political actor, leveraging its influence across multiple levels and cycles of political decision-making process. Non-governmental women’s and human rights organizations have initiated campaigns in attempt to counter the discourse of oppositional conservative and religious political actors, but these attempts were not effective on a larger political scale. This paper seeks to understand how the Catholic Church manages its involvement in gender politics in Lithuania and under what conditions it is able to exert the most substantial power. I utilize public media reports and anonymous in-depth interviews with various relevant actors involved to put together a more accurate and nuanced picture of Church’s engagement in gender politics. Ultimately, this case study also enriches theoretical literature on cultural and institutional opportunity structures in relation to religious actors influence in morality policy-making.
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