Foreign Norm Entrepreneurs’ Mis- and Disinformation Narratives on LGBT+ in Europe

Author: Cecilia Strand, Jakob Svensson


With ample evidence that foreign state actors and non-state norm entrepreneurs are engaged in misinformation and disinformation campaigns challenging the European Union’s human rights framework on LGBT+, this study analyses the narratives that these actors disseminate. Based on two methods – a standard literature review of academic and “grey” literature, as well as complementary analysis of entries in the EUvsDisinfo database – the study identifies four main narratives that can be attributed to or are actively sponsored by non-European actors: 1) Opposing gender ideology and protecting God’s order, 2) Heteroactivism and the protection of the rights of the “natural” family, 3) LGBT+ rights as Western colonialism, and 4) LGBT+ rights as a threat to the rights of children. Even though EU’s strong protection of freedom of speech makes it challenging to address misinformation and disinformation that falls outside hate-speech legislation, this paper argues that exploring the following counter measures could be worthwhile: 1) harmonization of European legal frameworks, 2) financial scrutiny and 3) strengthened automatic detection, editorial policies, andcommunity flagging, as well as the capacity to systematically deal with misinformation and disinformation campaign targeting LGBT+ across digital spaces in Europe.

Key words: disinformation, European Union, LGBT+ rights, misinformation, norm entrepreneurs
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