Atransformation, some would even say a revolution, is taking place in our un- derstanding of democracy. Citizens and nations are increasingly recognizing that freedom and equality under the law requires protecting the rights, sta- tus and expression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. What was a taboo subject 20 years ago is today open to public discussion and debate. LGBT rights are central topics of concern, not just in academic
circles, but even in televised presidential debates.
Remarkably, Latin America has emerged as a world leader in this democratic transformation.
Some of the most advanced pro-LGBT legislation can be found in the region. But at the
same time, in many areas Latin America is a world laggard; some of the worst forms of homophobia are routinely found in Latin America—placing the Americas in the awkward position of occupying both the lead and the back seat in the historic global movement to expand
our conception of democracy. What explains this dichotomy?
Americas Quarterly SPRING 2012