EU urged to take action against ‘dark money’ targeting women’s rights

Funding for right-wing ‘anti-gender’ organisations in Europe has increased dramatically over the past decade – but there is little transparency about where the money comes from.

This was one of the key conclusions of a hearing convened yesterday (25 March) by two committees of the European Parliament focused on women’s rights and foreign interference in EU democracy.

“Last year we looked at the international spending of 28 US groups that oppose sexual and reproductive rights and found that, overall, Europe was the region where the most money was spent,” openDemocracy’s global investigations editor, Claire Provost, told the hearing.

“None of these groups reveals in their [tax] filings the identities of their donors or details of how they use their money overseas,” she added.

However, openDemocracy’s investigations have followed some of this ‘dark money’ around the world and have revealed that key targets of this funding includes European courts.

Two US groups – the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) run by Jay Sekulow , Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – “have intervened in dozens of European court cases, including those against abortion and in defence of doctors who refuse to provide women with contraception,” said Provost.

ADF’s international lawyers, she explained, “have previously said they’re working to ensure ‘that bad European precedents don’t spread further in Europe, then across the sea to America’.”

Neil Datta, secretary of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF), told MEPs that anti-gender groups had spent hundreds of millions of dollars in total in Europe since 2019.

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