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British colonialism and the criminalization of homosexuality

Han, E. and O'Mahoney, J. ORCID: (2014) British colonialism and the criminalization of homosexuality. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 27 (2). pp. 268-288. ISSN 1474-449X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/09557571.2013.867298


What explains the global variation in laws criminalizing homosexual conduct? Recent research has claimed that British colonialism is largely responsible for the criminalization of homosexuality around the world. This article utilizes a newly constructed dataset that includes up-to-date data on 185 countries to assess this claim. We find that British colonies are much more likely to have criminalization of homosexual conduct laws than other colonies or other states in general. This result holds after controlling for other variables that might be expected to influence the likelihood of repressive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights legislation. However, we also find that the evidence in favour of the claim that British imperialism ‘poisoned’ societies against homosexuality is weak. British colonies do not systematically take longer to decriminalize homosexual conduct than other European colonies.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:80592
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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