Reassessing the Relationship Between Homophobia and Political Participation


Student Authors:

Catharine Arranz '20, Gettysburg College

Matthew Montes '22, Gettysburg College

Taylor Paulin '22, Gettysburg College

Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1

Political Science


Governments around the world vary in their policies affecting lesbian and gay communities. While some states enshrine the rights of their minority citizens, others drum up and enforce oppressive policies toward these groups, termed political homophobia. We are interested in the role such policies play in shaping electoral and non-electoral political participation. Existing research on this question is often optimistic that proponents of gay rights will steadily out-participate their opposition, but anti-gay mobilization remains ubiquitous in many states. Under what conditions might intolerant citizens out-participate more socially progressive citizens? And how do state policies influence this participation? By engaging literature on sexual citizenship and political efficacy, we argue that a state's policy choices send important signals to citizens that influence their participation. Citizens who are intolerant of homosexuality may be more participatory in states that espouse political homophobia. This study conducts the first worldwide examination of tolerant and intolerant participation with data from the World Values Survey (2010–2020) and a novel application of gay rights measures. We find that outside of gay rights-respecting states, intolerant individuals are more likely to vote than tolerant individuals. While tolerant individuals generally tend to engage more in non-electoral participation across states, they nonetheless turn out to the ballot box less in states that are not respecting of gay rights.

This item is not available in The Cupola.