Anti-gender populism has been on the rise since 2016 across the EU and beyond. Ringing very similar to the Republicans of the United States, proponents of anti-genderism put forward a number of far-fetched claims that mainly revolve around “saving the children” or the “corruption of society.” Anti-genderists seek to maintain the status quo of patriarchal society, which is in direct contrast to the aim projected by LGBTQ communities/academics which challenge current norms. Though anti-gender movements hold much in common across borders, the way they respond to the perceived “LGBTQ threat” can be very different.
In the British Isles, violence against LGBTQ communities skyrocketed following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. Under successive Tory governments and the populist spectre of UKIP, barely anything has been done to protect these communities. In contrast, Poland has opted to target LGBTQ communities through legislation with their decision to create “LGBT-free” zones throughout the country. As shown in the VICE news clip for this week, the threat of violence in Poland also only seems to be increasing.
In Hungary, the Orban government sought to target academics in the field of gender studies, getting rid of their ability to receive degrees in the field. Gender studies (both in Hungary and Poland) is derided as “communist” or “totalitarian,” because it challenges the staunchly catholic-conservative norms of eastern European governance. Overall, attacks on “gender ideology” all seem to spring from the same conservative corner of preserving the past, with the populist aspect of “save the children!” (and other added conspiratorial nonsense) sprinkled in.