Legal Path Dependence and the Long Arm of the Religious State

Sodomy Provisions and Gay Rights across Nations and over Time

By Victor Asal & Udi Sommer

Subjects: Gender Studies, Comparative Politics, Legal Studies, Sociology
Paperback : 9781438463247, 208 pages, July 2017
Hardcover : 9781438463230, 208 pages, December 2016

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Table of contents

List of Figures
List of Tables

1. Introduction

2. The History of Sodomy Laws and the Theory of Legal Path Dependence

3. The Religious State and Death Penalty for Sodomy

4. Sodomy Provisions and Their Repeal

5. Equalization of Rights

6. The Gay Rights Index

7. Conclusions

Appendix A: Descriptive Statistics
Appendix B: A Correlation Matrix
Appendix C: Supporting Analyses and Robustness Tests
Appendix D: Supporting Analyses and Robustness Tests
Appendix E: Supporting Analyses and Robustness Tests
Appendix F: Illustrations


A comparative examination of the political, historical, legal, and religious antecedents of penalties and discrimination against sexual minority groups around the world.


Bringing together theoretical perspectives from both comparative politics and public law, this book examines the reasons why certain countries criminalize same-sex activities while others have carved into law the requirement that sexual minority communities be protected. The authors break new ground by using cross-national yearly data over decades—focusing on sodomy laws, death penalty provisions for same-sex sexual relations, and sexual discrimination practices—to develop a Gay Rights Index comparing treatment of such groups in various parts of the world. The book includes legal and large-N analyses, historical examples, and case studies underscoring important changes and key trends during the last several decades. Also highlighted are the significant human rights violations still being committed in various parts of the world against sexual minorities, and the continuing role religion plays.

Victor Asal is Chair of Public Administration and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, State University of New York and the coauthor (with Paul G. Harwood) of Educating the First Digital Generation. Udi Sommer is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tel Aviv University and a member of both the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center and Israeli Young Academy. He is the author of Supreme Court Agenda Setting: Strategic Behavior During Case Selection.


"While the book is at times somber in light of the subject matter, the authors maintain a clear and respectful tone throughout … this is an extremely well-researched and sobering book. " — Reading Religion

"Highly recommended. " — CHOICE