Human rights INGOs, LGBT INGOs, and LGBT policy diffusion, 1991-2015

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Since the late 1990s, a growing body of literature has researched the crossnational diffusion of policies that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. Studies stemming from world society consider how state ties to newly emergent global norms regarding the treatment of LGBT communities are a driver of this process. A shortcoming of these studies, however, is that they do not adequately consider which type of ties to global norms are most meaningful for policy adoption. Considering the ever-increasing notion that LGBT rights are human rights, this study contrasts the role of human rights international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and LGBT INGOs on LGBT policy diffusion between 1991 and 2015. While previous studies assume a global norm exists, focus on a narrow band of policies, or restrict analyses to key geographic areas, this study develops a new measure of global LGBT norms and offers a comprehensive LGBT Policy Index for a global sample of 156 countries. Through pooled cross-sectional time series with fixed effects, the results demonstrate that human rights INGOs are not adequate vehicles for pressuring national adoption of LGBT policies. Instead, targeted advocacy efforts, embodied through LGBT INGOs, are required in order for policy adoption to transpire.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-404
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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