Female Empowerment Matters: A global study of the legalization of same-sex relationships
Presented by : Yen-hsin Alice Cheng (Academia Sinica, Taiwan) ; Discussant : Maks Banens (Université Lyon 2)
This study investigated the contextual antecedents of the legal recognition of same-sex relationships (i.e., sodomy law, civil unions, and marriages) across 149 countries from 1988 to 2016. We pooled time-series data from various aggregate databases (i.e., SWIID, WDI, V-Dem, Polity IV, Archigos, and UIA database) to examine why laws protecting same-sex relationships are more rapidly adopted by certain countries than by others. We argue that in addition to social and economic development and embeddedness in the world polity (measured by INGO memberships, social globalization, and religious freedom), female empowerment (measured by percentage of female parliamentarians, female political leadership, female labor force participation) is an important yet neglected factor that propels legal reforms on same-sex relationships. In particular, we also found regional differences in the contextual predictors that were crucial—the share of female parliamentarians and embeddedness in world society are conducive to more comprehensive protection of same-sex relationships in Western developed countries, whereas female head of state and religious freedom matter more for the rest of the world regions. The findings show that it is imperative to adopt a more nuanced approach to study the global diffusion of laws protecting same-sex relationships. Finally, female political empowerment is likely one critical milestone for advancing civil rights among homosexuals. The preeminent impact of expanding socio-political power among women on promoting legal protection of same-sex couples reveals a vital aspect of social change that should be further explored in future research.
Yen-hsin Alice Cheng
Yen-hsin Alice Cheng is an associate professor and research fellow in the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan. She received her Ph.D. degree in Sociology and Demography from the Pennsylvania State University in the United States and spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany. Her recent research investigated the socioeconomic differentials in marriage, divorce, and fertility over the past decades in Taiwan. Her latest works also include studies on disadvantaged youths and labor projections in East Asia, as well as comparative studies on public attitudes toward homosexuality.