Abstract by Eszter Kováts

In recent years sexual and reproductive health and rights and the concept of “gender” itself have become political battlegrounds all over Europe and on EU level too. Most researchers analyze the supply side factors of the phenomenon: ideology, political and discursive strategies, alliances and funding of the mobilizing actors, be it conservative social movements or political parties. Activists and activist-scholars mostly treat the phenomenon as a “conservative backlash” against women’s and gay/lesbians’ rights. Based on my empirical research on Hungary, where anti-gender politics is official government stance I will try to challenge these approaches and assumptions, and propose a critical understanding. My statement: Instead of a solely conservative resistance to progressive and emancipatory change, the anti-gender actors propose (albeit ugly) answers to real and partly problematic developments on the Left. Seeing these root causes behind the worrying political developments might help develop more effective counter-strategies.