The contribution of gender equality to the coexistence of progressive abortion and sexual orientation laws.

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Cross-nationally, attitudes toward abortion laws and laws affecting the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community covary in how progressive they are; the more legal rights one believes the LGB community should have, the more legal access to abortion one believes women should have. Based on these findings, we test the coexistence of the progressiveness of actual laws at a cross-national level of analysis. We also explore what could be some of the dominant predictors of the covariance of these laws, which include (1) fertility demands that work against individual freedoms to behave in ways counterproductive to fertility, and (2) religiosity, which can affect cultural prohibitions of both abortion and same-sex sexual activity, based on interpretations of scripture. We propose a third perspective, (3) gender equality, which could link to both abortion laws and LGB laws. Furthermore, we propose that gender equality may mediate how fertility demands and religiosity influence these laws, given knowledge that fertility demands and religiosity both assume traditional roles for women. Using archival data (N = 194 countries) obtained through publicly available reports, we analyzed the relationship between laws concerning abortion and laws concerning LGB rights and predicted their covariance using variables representing fertility-freedom, religiosity, and gender equality. The results show that gender equality is a robust predictor of the abortion-LGB link cross-nationally, and helps mediate the effects of the fertility-freedom and religiosity models. These data contribute to an understanding of the centrality of gender equality as an influential political factor for both sexual and reproductive rights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-281
Number of pages19
JournalSex Roles: A Journal of Research
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Abortion laws
  • Discrimination laws
  • Gender equality
  • Sex discrimination
  • Sexual orientation laws

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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