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Rights and Liberties in a Comparative Perspective: A Cross National Analysis of Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities

Final Report Summary - CIVLIBSID (Rights and Liberties in a Comparative Perspective: A Cross National Analysis of Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities)

The support of IRG funding has been pivotal in my professional development and it has qualified me for tenure and promotion in the department of political science; three years after landing the position of lecturer, I was promoted and got tenure at Tel Aviv University. I now hold a permanent position as associate professor of political science. This is an ultimate benchmark for the success of reintegration under the IRG framework.
IRG funding was sought for an interdisciplinary research project attempting to develop a new research paradigm for the understanding of rights and liberties in a comparative perspective, with a particular emphasis on the rights and liberties of sexual minorities. The support was aimed to help a young researcher in establishing his career as a junior faculty member holding a tenure track position at Tel Aviv University. Both goals were achieved.
The overall goals for the project include the formation of a new theoretical framework explaining rights of sexual minorities cross-nationally and over time; the collection of original data; and, use of a combination of cutting edge methodological approaches to empirically test the theory. In terms of productivity, the ultimate goal was to produce a book manuscript and a series of journal articles based on the novel theory, data and methods. Additional goals included presentations at international conferences and submission of additional grants based on the work accomplished with the support of IRG. I have now published 3 articles in leading journals, have completed a book manuscript and have applied to several continuing grants, including the ERC grand on 2000000 Euros for 5 years, which is now under review.
In terms of scientific progress and results, inmy work on comparative rights, I employ a large-N comparative framework and cutting edge methodologies to analyze questions concerning democratic civil and political rights, legal evolution and policy change. In “Original Sin: A Cross National Study of the Legality of Homosexual Acts” (Comparative Political Studies, 2013) I study decriminalization of homosexual acts quantitatively in a cross-national perspective with a large sample of countries over a period of several decades. The key argument is that, ceteris paribus, path dependence in systems of Common Law explains why countries do or do not repeal sodomy laws. The theory is corroborated with cross-national data using GEE and Cox proportional hazards models controlling for legal system in addition to globalization, economic development and democratic conditions. In “Institutional Paths to Policy Change: A Cross National Analysis of the Repeal of Sodomy Laws via Judicial and non-Judicial Institutions” (Law and Society Review, 2013), I delve further into the question of legal change of the type examined in Original Sin. In the theoretical framework proposed, the path dependent nature of law has a differential effect on courts and legislatures. Further, political institutions such as elections and accountability lead those bodies to introduce policy change under dissimilar circumstances. Global trends, however, affect both institutional paths equally. Results from two disparate multivariate models overwhelmingly confirm my predictions. Uniquely positioned institutionally, courts of last resort are less constrained than legislatures by either legal path dependence or political accountability. Globalization, on the other hand, has an equal effect on both. This work is the first to offer a theoretical framework explaining policy change via different institutional paths, systematically test it comparatively and with respect to a policy issue still on the agenda in many countries.