Sooner or later: Timing the introduction of same-sex union laws

Achim Hildebrandt (University of Stuttgart), Eva-Maria Trüdinger (University of Stuttgart) & Sebastian Jäckle (University of Freiburg)

The club of Western democracies legally recognizing same-sex unions, either through a registered partnership or marriage, has consistently expanded its ranks since 1989, when Denmark first introduced registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Questions surrounding the factors that drive the timing of the introduction of same-sex union laws have since sparked a lively academic debate. In their article “Sooner or later: the influence of public opinion and religiosity on the enactment of laws recognizing same-sex unions” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Achim Hildebrandt, Eva-Maria Trüdinger and Sebastian Jäckle add to this debate by zooming in on the effects of three cultural factors – attitudes to homosexuality, intolerance of gays and lesbians and religiosity. Their analysis suggest culture plays a key role in the timing of legalising same-sex union, indicating that “the less tolerant people are of gays and lesbians and the greater a country’s percentage of regular attendees of religious services, the later a same-sex union law is introduced.” Yet, their findings also highlight the importance of digging a little deeper and recognizing different facets of culture, as “toleration of gays and lesbians in everyday life and religious service attendance have a greater influence on policy dynamics than more abstract beliefs such as moral approval of homosexuality or religious faith.”