Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Outside the advanced democratic societies it is difficult to generalize about the politics, societies, and economies of the countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Each region has its own character and many subregional variations. Furthermore, there are some countries that stand alone in their characterization. However, in many of the countries of these regions, particularly the Middle East, Latin America, and parts of Africa and Asia, there is one common theme: the role that religion plays, directly and indirectly, in the governance of many of these countries.
This chapter, therefore, will be an effort to broaden the scope of thinking about the stages of gay and lesbian public policy in countries outside of the advanced democracies.
There seem to have been three stages in the development of gay and lesbian policies in the Western world. The first of these stages involved the outright outlawing of homosexuality and homosexual acts. These laws were put into place with the backing of populations with strong homophobic cultural and religious beliefs. These laws had the effect of driving gay and lesbian people underground. The societies tolerated these activities as long as they were underground and allowed police forces and politicians to use crackdowns against gay gathering places as a way of enhancing their “moral” and political reputations.