Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 959–976 | Cite as

Geographies of Tolerance: Human Development, Heteronormativity, and Religion

Original Paper


In their work on the human development sequence, Inglehart and Welzel (Modernization, cultural change, and democracy: the human development sequence. Cambridge University Press, New York, 2005) argue that there is a “rising tide” of gender equality across various countries in the system. While the authors propose that the process that holds true for a rising tide in women’s rights is also true for other outgroups including minorities and homosexuals, they do not test their proposed relationship on feelings toward these groups. At the same time, studies on sexuality and tolerance suggest that religious beliefs and government institutions play a significant role in shaping societal attitudes about homosexuality, promulgating beliefs and policies that place homosexuality in a negative light. In the case of government institutions, sexuality may also be framed as a security issue, making homosexuality appear as a threat. The present work performs an empirical test of the mechanisms of the human development sequence on tolerance toward homosexuality, and compares this theory to rival hypotheses regarding the effects of religion and heteronormative policies. Empirical testing using hierarchical linear models shows mixed support for hypotheses drawn from work on the human development sequence, but indicates that religious belief and heteronormativity in government policies have a significant relationship to levels of tolerance.


Homosexuality Heteronormativity Religion Modernization theory Security policy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA

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