Report released by European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights reveals scale of money spent on anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ initiatives
From 2009 to 2018, 54 organizations spent $ 702 million on anti-gender activities in Europe – annual anti-gender spending in the region quadrupling during this period, new data has revealed.
The “tip of the iceberg report”, written by Neil Datta of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, found that American actors spent $ 81.3 million. Money from the Russian Federation was $ 188.2 million, while $ 437.7 million came from Europe itself.
Funders include European aristocrats, religious freedom giants linked to Donald Trump, think tanks admired by British politicians and allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The report also reveals how “astroturf” organizations, which claim to be funded by public donations, are in fact supported by billionaire backers.
Two of the biggest US spenders in Europe are: Alliance Defending Freedom; and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Both have European arms – ADF International and the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ). The latter also has a Moscow-based branch, the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ), headed by Putin’s ally Vladimir Ryakhovsky.
the chief lawyer of the ACLJ, Jay sekulow, was Trump’s lawyer during his impeachment hearings in 2020. ADF significantly increased its European spending over the period analyzed by Datta. In 2011 he was spending $ 657,000 in the region – by 2018 it had grown to $ 4.36 million, of which £ 448,436 was in the UK in 2019. His total spending during the period analyzed was 23 , $ 2 million.
The ACLJ / ECLJ / SCLJ spent $ 15.7 million between 2009 and 2018. The ACLJ routes $ 1.2 million per year to its European subsidiary.
Both organizations engage in legal activism, seeking to achieve their anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ goals through litigation. Their common “right to sexual and reproductive rights” strategy means they were involved in 35 cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) between 2009 and 2018.
Although it is referred to as hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, ADF was recently cited in a UK government white paper on free speech in universities and campaigned on UK campuses to support students and anti-abortion societies. He is also campaigning against the establishment of “buffer zones” around abortion clinics.
The Heritage Foundation spent $ 1 million during the period analyzed. The radical right-wing think tank is anti-abortion, anti-LGBTIQ and pro-Brexit, and has ties to the Tory MP Liam Renard who, in 2018, delivered the annual Margaret Thatcher Freedom lecture at the foundation in Washington. David Davis, Nigel Farage and Owen Paterson lectured at the foundation. In 2018, Boris Johnson met with representatives of the organization.
Money entering Europe from the United States often comes from wealthy families such as the DeVos family, the Prince family and the Koch brothers.
Betsy DeVos was Education Secretary during Trump’s tenure as President of the United States – a period in which progress on sexual harassment and LGBTIQ rights in schools was reversed. The family’s net worth is $ 5.4 billion and it has four charitable foundations which in turn have funneled $ 691 million into European anti-gender activism through the Acton Institute and the Federalist Foundation.
She is also the daughter of billionaires Edgar and Elsa Prince Broekhuizen who created the Prince Foundation, which spent $ 49.8 million through the Acton Institute, ADF and the Mike Pence-linked Leadership Institute through its foundation. Betsy DeVos’ brother Erik Prince founded security firm Blackwater Worldwide – in 2020 Trump forgiven four private security contractors working for Blackwater who were convicted of a massacre in Baghdad.
Datta’s research has tracked $ 186.7 million in funding for Russian oligarchs in European anti-gender movements between 2009 and 2018, with spending falling after 2014 due to sanctions following the Crimean crisis.
The two main oligarchs cited are Konstantin Malofeev and Vladimir Yakunin, both linked to the Russian Patriarchal Commission for the Family, Maternity and Child Welfare. They also have ties to the US-founded World Congress of Families (WCF), an annual networking event for anti-gender actors set up by Brian Brown.
Yakunin, who has been hinted at as Putin’s possible successor, funds a range of organizations including the Istoki Endowment Fund, the Dialogue of Civilizations Rhodes Forum, the Sanctity of Motherhood, the St Andrews the First Called Foundation and the Center for National Glory. .
Malofeev heads the Katehon think tank, the St. Basil the Great Foundation and Tsargrad TV. It is known to fund other socially conservative Russian entities.
Both use their various entities to fund the American Christian right, European far-right parties, and anti-gender actors such as CitizenGO and WCF. Malofeev’s man in the field, Alexey Komov, is a member of the CitizenGO board and the Russian representative to the WCF.
In the 2014 European elections, Malofeev “played a role in unblocking the Russian loan obtained by Jean-Marie LePen ”to finance the electoral campaign of the French far-right party. LePen created the Front National de France, now renamed The National Gathering and run by his daughter Marine LePen.
Russian support has also gone to the Italian far-right League party. following “an agreement with the Russians, the League would receive at least € 250,000 per month for a year, or € 3 million in total, and use this money for the  election campaign”.
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A series of nationally owned European foundations have spent millions of dollars on anti-gender actions in the region, including the French foundation Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, the Hintze Family Foundation of the United Kingdom, Fondazione Novae Terrae in Italy and Spain Fundacion Valores y Sociedad, according to Datta.
The latter, with the Fundacio Provida de Catalunya and Italy Fondazione Vita Nova, set up the European citizens’ initiative “One Of Us” which also involves CitizenGO, Jérôme Lejeune Foundation and dozens of other anti-abortion groups across the region. The combined financial weight of One Of Us was $ 31.5 million between 2009 and 2018.
One of the main promoters of the One Of Us foundation was the German Yes To Life foundation, created by the late Countess of Westphalia. She is one of many examples of the old European aristocracy using their ancestral wealth to attempt to roll back the rights of women and LGBTIQ people.
The Countess is joined by the European Count Albrecht von Brandenstein-Zeppelin Family Foundation which funds activities such as the anti-rainbow family group Demo for Alle. Princess Gloria von Thurn and Taxis used her fortune to fund initiatives linked to Trump’s former chief strategy officer, far-right ideologue Steve Bannon.
The German aristocratic dynasty of Oldenburg is also prominent anti-gender actors. The Duchess of Oldenburg Beatrix Von Sturch is the deputy leader of the far-right political party Alternative for Germany; and his cousin, the Duke of Oldenburg, is the European representative of the organization Tradition, Family Property (TFP) and heads its coordination group, the Federation Pro Europa Christiana.
The TFP network generated at least $ 113.4 million for anti-LGBTIQ and anti-abortion actions across Europe between 2009 and 2018.
The Duke and Duchess of Hapbsurg are said to have supported the obscure Agenda Europe network, as has British and Australian banker Sir Michael Hintze. The latter was knighted by former Prime Minister David Cameron and is a member of the Vatican Council.
Business leaders like Hintze have a key role to play in funding anti-gender groups. Datta discovered that Claude Bébéar and Count Henri de Castries of Axa Insurance had supported the French homophobic movement, The Demonstration For All; while prosecco and shoemaker Mario Moretti Polegato, and dairy magnate Roberto Brazzale, were among the companies that funded WCF Verona.
In Eastern Europe, wealthy Polish businessmen, including window manufacturer Mateusz Kłosek, donated to Fundacja Nasze Dzieci, while Paweł Witaszek supported anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ actors.
The last major funders of anti-gender movements are the Catholic and Protestant churches.
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