Tuesday, July 5

Funding to overturn women’s rights and LGTBI in Europe quadruples in ten years

707.2 million dollars to try to overturn sexual and reproductive rights. These are the figures that a recent investigation by the European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) attributes to the ultra-Catholic agenda in Europe with which a conglomerate of foundations and NGOs operates to undermine abortion, sex education and LGTBI laws and prevent them from new ones are proclaimed.

The forum is a network of parliamentarians from across the continent that has monitored the activity of fifty groups and the money they have spent on this agenda, which calls anti-gender. The report The tip of the iceberg. Extremist religious funders against sexual and reproductive rights reveals that it has multiplied by four in a decade, going from 22.2 million in 2009 to 96 in 2018. In total, they have added 707.2 million in ten years in an “underestimated” approximation, he highlights.

The figures illustrate the rise in recent years of movements against feminism and women’s rights, abortion and the LGTBI collective. Among them is the Spanish association HazteOír or its international subsidiary CitizenGo, to which the study attributes an expenditure of 32.7 million euros in this period, and a whole conglomerate of actors with weight within the European Union, where they try influence politically. But also within its borders. The research highlights France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland as the base countries of the most “important” foundations. In our country HazteOír became known for chartering the transphobic bus and launching ultra-conservative initiatives. His links with Vox are known, a formation with which he shares speech and ideas, but also names on the electoral lists.

“The image that emerges is of a transnational community of like-minded religious extremists and far-right actors making strategic funding decisions across international borders,” the research concludes, describing a “carefully orchestrated strategy” against advancing rights. that is already “producing concrete results.” Among them, the almost total abortion ban and the ‘LGTBI-free zones’ in Poland or the anti-LGTBI laws in Hungary, which just banned talking about homosexuality in schools in a norm that equates it with pedophilia. Now these groups are focused on trying to knock down the so-called ‘Matic report’ on women’s sexual and reproductive rights, which the European Parliament will vote on Thursday.

The report notes how opposition to these advances was for a time seen as “a natural reaction” to progress or “a local eccentricity contained in few conservative countries” and the current resurgence “was initially underestimated. […] until it began to mobilize popular support, influence and shape the political landscape. “Analysts have long warned that this network of actors is embodied in political formations that have grown in recent years. The study names Spain and Germany as countries in which these groups have created mechanisms “to channel activism” against sexual and reproductive rights “and transform participants into political actors” through parties like Vox, the experts cite.

A coordinated international network

The EPF has identified three prominent geographic origins for these types of organizations: Europe, the United States, and Russia. The first is the one that contributes the greatest amount of money to the total amount through the activity of private foundations “committed” to the ‘anti-gender’ agenda. In total, some twenty organizations have spent these ten years 437.7 million dollars, the study figures. They do this through numerous activities, such as creating media, collecting online signatures, calling for marches or holding forums and events. The study warns that the data of these European actors “are the most inconsistent” and have “important gaps that lead to an underestimation.”

The investigation describes HazteOír / CitizenGo as “one of the most important organizations on the extreme right of the international political spectrum” and attributes successful strategies such as the so-called astroturfing, which consists of launching initiatives making them pass as a popular and spontaneous expression. Both on its website are defined as “a community of active citizens that seeks to promote the participation of society in politics” through signature requests. The last one asks Pablo Casado to appeal the Euthanasia Law, which will take effect in two days. In this way, “they fabricate social outrage to channel their objectives towards right-wing and extreme-right political parties,” the study details.

The study also cites One of Us, a European federation founded in 2013 by former popular minister Jaime Mayor Oreja with the aim of defending “values ​​based on Judeo-Christian roots”; the Fundacio Provida Catalunya, or the French Foundation Jérôme Lejeune, also present in Spain. Foundations in France, Germany, Italy and Poland complete the map of more active actors who do not act in isolation from the rest, but rather organize and coordinate among themselves and also with political formations and prominent churches and religious actors.

This “international collaboration” behind which there is a formal strategy of action takes shape in collective initiatives such as the Agenda Europa, a network created in 2013 to which many of these organizations belong, or the network Political Network for Values, a platform “of political representatives to network, in a global and local exchange, actively promoting and defending a decalogue of shared values, including the protection of human life, marriage, family or religious freedom and of conscience “. Among its members are Mayor Oreja, the former popular senator Luis Peral and almost a score of other politicians from countries around the world. The board of directors is chaired by the Hungarian Minister of Family Katalin Novák and is a member of the same Ignacio Arsuaga, president and foundation of HazteOír.

The use of litigation “to undermine human rights”

The study puts 81.3 million euros in the amount that comes from a dozen NGOs and think tanks of the United States that “in turn benefit from conservative foundations product of billionaires with connections to the Republican Party and the extreme right,” they say. The actors in this group have gone from eight to ten in the last decade and among them stand out ADF International Y ECLJ, actively engaged in strategic litigation and that according to the report “have built a legal infrastructure in Europe” with offices “in all decision-making centers” on the continent from which they have participated “in more than 30 cases” before European courts “to undermine human rights.” The latter is a technique used in Spain by the ultra-Catholic organization Abogados Cristianos, which has brought dozens of cases related to abortion or sex education to court.

Another of the active organizations in Europe from the American Christian right that the investigation identifies is the Leadership Institute, founded in the state of Virginia in 1987 and known “for training activists” of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement and organizing in Europe, says the report, “training for ultra-conservative and far-right audiences such as the Spanish HazteOír”, specifically, ” helping them professionalize fundraising operations. ” Arsuaga, was in fact awarded in 2012 by a conglomerate of actors, including this group, for making HO “one of the most influential civil society movements in Western Europe.”

The last focus pointed to the Russian Federation, where 188 million dollars come from to finance the ‘anti-gender agenda’. Mainly from entities “linked to two Russian oligarchs: Vladimir Yakunin and Konstatin Malofeev” and four government agencies. The report also points to the existence of “black” money coming from laundries in Russia. The European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights says that this is how funds have been channeled to far-right parties on the continent.