The Social Liberalization of Latin America: Gay Marriage, Abortion, and Marijuana Decriminalization 1980-2015

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Kennedy, Joseph
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
This paper seeks to measure the social liberalization of the eight case studies: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Following the measure of social liberalization, this paper seeks to connect the histories of each country and explain the changes in gay marriage, abortion law, and marijuana decriminalization. Through deep case histories this study bases around the three key issues and seeks to make larger predictions. Following the case studies, a liberalization score using gay marriage, abortion, and marijuana decriminalization is compiled and then compared with a social liberalization predictor score. This final comparison shows if the basic liberalization score matches the complex social liberalization. The cases of Uruguay and Paraguay emulate this as the governments are seemingly on separate ends of the political spectrum. Uruguay has gay marriage, legal marijuana, and unrestricted abortion laws while Paraguay does not have any same-sex partnership, has an anti-LGBT president, has decriminalized marijuana, and only allows abortion on one ground. Although these countries are not polar opposites on all issues, the political divisions on abortion and gay marriage are clear. Additionally, the antidiscrimination law that protects LGBT citizens in Uruguay does not exist in Paraguay. An interesting finding is across gay marriage legalization, marijuana decriminalization and legalization, and abortion allowance, public opinion on governmental policy did not play a decisive role in the government’s ultimate decision.
gay marriage, marijuana, abortion, Latin America, liberalization