So far, the Italian literature on the genesis and development of anti-gender mobilisation has focussed on right-wing and Vatican strategies, discourses, and alliances. However, in recent years debates around “gender theory" have prompted political and cultural conflicts inside Italian feminist, lesbian and secular leftwing movements and parties. These political fractures – mirrored also in the debate on TERF and “gender-critical” feminism - have become visible in the Italian public debate on the Zan Bill (an anti-homophobia provision rejected by Italian Parliament in 2021). Although “gender critical” feminists do not belong to the anti-gender movement - in Italy largely monopolised by rightwing and Catholic activists - I argue that the unexpected convergences towards the fight against “gender ideology” are relevant for, at least, two reasons. On one side, the idea of “gender theory” has reinforced its role as a keyword orienting Italian public discourse on sexual rights. On the other hand, criticism of various (although inconsistent) definitions of “gender theory” has broadened their cultural circulation outside conservative or religious groups, in both cases associated with processes of ideological colonisation. These two shifts can be considered to enact a relevant normalisation of anti-gender narratives within Italian public and political discourse fostered by media vulgarisation and popular understandings of the meaning of “gender”.
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