Far-right political parties and wealthy donors are steadily allying with mainstream foundations to fund extreme anti-gender-rights initiatives across Europe, according to a new study by the European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF).
The study connects the dots between some of Europe’s most high-profile anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion campaigns of the past decade and funding from international oligarchs, aristocrats, and religious organizations.
EPF found that over $700 million in funding to the European groups in over a dozen countries came from just 54 organizations in America, Russia and the European Union between 2009-2018. Over half of that came from organizations and figures in the EU. While previous reports have cataloged the funding streams of American entities, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Charles Koch Foundation, in this arena across Europe, the extent of EU-grown funding was previously unknown.
“We’re at the beginning stage where European anti-gender groups are going to internationalize in the way that American groups have done for a decade or so,” said Neil Datta, Secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights.
Datta pointed to Poland’s rightward shift over the past decade as evidence of where this spending has been most effective. The transnational Catholic movement Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), which originated in Brazil, and its Poland-based organization Ordo Iuris have been behind some of the most extreme recent anti-gender-rights initiatives, including the 2016 bill to ban abortion, a law to criminalize sexuality education, and so-called “LGBTQ-free zones.” The TFP network has raised over $113 million between 2009 and 2018, according to the report.
The report also highlights the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation in France which is well-known for its advocacy around children’s disabilities. The report lays out how in 2013, the Foundation formalized an international anti-abortion movement called One of Us into an NGO and began organizing activities around Europe including marches and forums. One of Us has generated over $31 million between 2009 and 2018, according to the report.
“This is one that tends to go under the radar. They have a very good reputation because they do a lot of work which supports valid issues,” Datta says.
The report concludes that these foundations, wealthy donors and religious actors are coalescing around multiple “mutually-reinforcing projects” to advance an anti-gender-rights agenda.
“What struck me was the multiple interrelationships between so many of the anti-gender movements which are really on the extremist fringe of the political discourse and aren’t grounded in values of human rights and democracy,” said Datta. “It’s not normal to see these groups interact with each other, but it does look like they have been forging consensus around a common enemy.”