Original Sin: A Cross-National Study of the Legality of Homosexual Acts

Victor Asal, Udi Sommer, Paul G. Harwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the legality of homosexual acts quantitatively in a cross-national perspective with a large sample of countries from 1972 to 2002. Employing path dependence as its theoretical framework, this work explains how political, economic, and legal institutions at the domestic and international levels affect the lives of individual citizens. The rights and privileges of individuals, the findings of this study indicate, are determined by a wide array of variables, including legal origin, economic development, religion, democratization, and the position of the nation in the international community. The authors use recently released cross-national data concerning decriminalization of homosexual intercourse, economic conditions, and political institutions. A generalized estimating equation analyzes decriminalization of homosexual acts. A Cox proportional hazards model examines how long it takes to introduce this legal reform. Last, this study also offers some important lessons about civil rights and liberties more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-351
Number of pages32
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • common law
  • comparative public law
  • legal evolution
  • path dependence
  • sodomy law


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