A Growing Queer Divide: The Divergence between Transnational Advocacy Networks and Foreign Aid in Diffusing LGBT Policies

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Kristopher VELASCO, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
In recent years, there have been remarkable advancements across the globe when it comes to policies concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. States are increasingly adopting same-sex marriage laws, decriminalizing homosexuality, and instituting anti-discrimination measures. International organizations like the United Nations, European Union, Organization of American States, and the World Bank have also outlined their support for LGBT rights. Consequently, development agencies have begun factoring in the treatment of these communities into aid conditionality decisions. Meanwhile, the world has seen hardened polarization on this topic. World society scholars would argue that the diffusion of policies may be attributable to growing norms and transnational advocacy networks, while realists would contend that material incentives, such as foreign aid, could compel states to move in a more progressive direction. To assess both the diffusion of such policies and the mounting divide amongst states, I perform a series of cross-sectional time-series models using data from 1991-2016. For the dependent measure, I develop a 13-point LGBT policy index scale. I predict this index value by creating a novel measure of global LGBT pressure. Through interacting this term with state embeddedness within the world society, via prestige scores from a social network analysis, and four different measures of foreign aid, results demonstrate that both factors moderate the effect global norms are having. States more embedded within transnational advocacy networks respond positively to global pressure and enact more policy reforms. States connected to the broader global system through foreign aid dollars, meanwhile, negatively respond to the growing expectations on how to treat sexual minorities, hardening their opposition. Since states centralized within the network are generally not those receiving aid, how these two groups are responding to global norms can help explain both the diffusion, but also the growing divide on how LGBT communities are governed.