LGBT Rights in the Americas JAVIER CORRALES
FIGURE 1. Pro-LGBT Laws and Businesses by Region (on a - 1 to 14 scale)
Eastern Europe & Central Asia*
East Asia & Pacific
Middle East & North Africa
10 11 12 13 14
Legal environment average score
Organizational density average score
includes in Europe
and Eastern Europe/
Central Asia are:
Europe: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic,
Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece,
Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg,
Malta, Netherlands, Nor way, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia,
Slovenia, South Georgia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
excludes the islands of the Caribbean. When examined
separately, the score for the Caribbean is dismal, one of
the lowest in the world: 2. 85 for the legal index; 1. 11 for
the organizational index.
Second, there is significant variation even across the
rest of Latin America. Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Colombia score very favorably in our indices, but Bolivia,
Mexico, Venezuela, and most Central American countries score poorly (below 4 points of 14 in our legal index).
HOW DID ARGENTINA DO IT?
How might we explain this divergence? Most people are familiar with the obstacles to LGBT rights, ranging from well-entrenched cultural norms of machismo, sexism and secrecy, to the
prominent role of religion in preaching anti-LGBT positions. So perhaps the best approach to the question is
to focus on the reasons for high scores rather than on
the reasons for low scores.
Americas Quarterly SPRING 2012
And there is no question that, in terms of legal issues, Argentina is perhaps the most important achiever.
Why Argentina, of All Places?
When one examines the literature on the factors that often relate to LGBT rights, one finds that many of these
factors can be found in Argentina. Democratic rights are
widespread and leading parties are mostly leftist. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that cultural attitudes
are secular, at least in the cities. One of the strongest correlations is between secularism (measured in terms of the
percentage of people in a given country who believe that
“marriage is an outdated institution”) and a very pro-LGBT
legal and organizational environment. This finding fits
the Argentine case well, and helps explain why the Caribbean and Central America don’t do so well.
But Argentina also contradicts some of the important predictions of the literature. For instance, economic globalization is associated with LGBT rights. Yet