The year 2013 featured unprecedented strides for gay rights in some parts of the world, particularly in Western Europe and the Americas, but also startling setbacks elsewhere, as in Russia and some countries in Africa. Wealth and religion are the most discussed factors behind this so-called global divide on homosexuality. Less studied and therefore less understood, however, is the effect of the political regime, especially whether the country is democratic or not. Although gay rights are not found in all democracies, gay rights are virtually nonexistent in nondemocracies. Among the many factors that make democracy an apparent prerequisite for gay rights are the opportunities that it provides for advocacy—including access to the courts, the party system, and the legislature—as well as a social environment that permits gay people to live their lives openly and honestly, a critical but often overlooked factor in advancing societal acceptance of homosexuality.
Gay Rights: Why Democracy Matters
Issue Date July 2014
Page Numbers 90-104