A dangerous concept has emerged in Latin America, one with the power to rapidly mobilize voters and give new energy to the socially conservative agenda. It’s called “gender ideology,” and according to the conservative politicians and activists who coined the phrase, it redefines reforms that benefit women and LGBTI people—such as the right to same-sex marriage—as the “imposition” of a system of beliefs [link in Spanish] that threatens “Christian values” and corrupts society.
If the false narrative of gender ideology continues to gain momentum, the hard-won rights of LGBTI people and women could be endangered.
So far, the makeover has worked: last year in Colombia, for example, a campaign against gender ideology contributed to the rejection of a peace agreement struck between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
What the Colombia example also shows, however, is that the political forces behind gender ideology are mostly the same ones who spent decades fighting to deny the rights of women and LGBTI people. By rebranding politics in opposition to gender ideology and utilizing populist, fear-based messaging, socially conservative forces are able to attack the rights of LGBTI people and women with renewed vigor.