MU-led project finds anti-gender politics on the rise across Europe

Thursday, April 11, 2024 - 11:45

A project researching so-called ‘anti-gender’ politics across Europe shows how politics attacking the idea of gender have taken root internationally.

The RESIST project has released research results demonstrating how transgender rights and LGBTIQ advocacy have become key targets for ‘anti-gender’ politics internationally.

Professor Gavan Titley, principal investigator at Maynooth University said: “Our research demonstrates that an intensive attack on LGTBIQ+ people across Europe is advanced through attacking the very idea of ‘gender’. While so-called ‘anti-gender’ politics have been attacking feminism and reproductive rights for decades, this politics is not static, and ‘anti-gender’ actors are always on the look-out for new targets.

“A notable addition right now is to try to marginalise any form of LGBTIQ+ visibility and advocacy as ‘aggressive activism’ that is accused of wanting to impose ‘minority’ ideas and values on ‘majority populations.’ Once you do this, you can declare that you are defending children’s rights, parent’s rights, freedom of speech and even democracy against them.”

Based on research into thousands of parliamentary debates and newspaper articles in Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, the UK and European Parliament over the period 2015 to 2023, the research results provide evidence of several alarming trends in how women’s and LGBTIQ+ rights are currently being undermined.

According to Prof Titley: “Our research is the first transnational study providing in-depth comparison between parliaments, media, and public controversies. While there are important differences across contexts, in every country studied we found evidence of sensationalist and demeaning political attention directed at trans people.

“These so-called debates are all very recent and driven by clearly identifiable political interests. It is notable that in many countries major national newspapers have taken a lead role in deliberately stoking up a damaging moral panic targeting transgender lives and identities.”

The media and parliamentary analysis was led by the Department of Media Studies at Maynooth University. The project is co-ordinated by University College Dublin in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University, European University Viadrina, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Université de Lausanne, Université de Fribourg, Maynooth University, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and Feminist Autonomous Centre for research, Athens.

The full study is available at

RESIST is a four-year study supported by the research councils and funding bodies of the European Union, UK and Switzerland. Get more information about the project on its website.