The same-sex unions revolution in Western democracies

International norms and domestic policy change

By Kelly Kollman

The same-sex unions revolution in Western democracies


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9994-6
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: December 2015
  • BIC Category: Politics, Political control & freedoms, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gay Studies, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom, Gay & Lesbian Studies, Society & social sciences / Political control & freedoms


Now available in paperback, this book examines same-sex unions (SSU) policy developments in eighteen western democracies and seeks to explain why the overwhelming majority of these countries has implemented a national law to recognise gay and lesbian couples since 1989. Drawing on extensive interview and document analysis the book illustrates the ways in which SSU policy debates and outcomes have been catalysed by international norm diffusion and social learning. The second part of the study analyses these processes in greater depth using two comparative case studies (Germany and the Netherlands; the United States and Canada) to identify how the norm influences domestic policy debates as well as which factors determine how much power it can exert in different national environments. The case study analysis also reveals why western democracies have implemented different models of recognition (marriage vs. registered partnership vs. unregistered cohabitant).


Kelly Kollman traces the internationalisation of the idea of same-sex unions that has resulted in a remarkable transformation in the formal recognition of LGBT relationships. This book provides a powerful and thought-provoking anatomy of this major shift, and a testimony to the achievements of the LGBT movement, perhaps the most successful of the social movements that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jeffrey Weeks, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at London South Bank University


1. Introduction: The same-sex unions revolution in western democracies
2. Sexual citizenship, LGBT movements and the relationship recognition debate in western democracies
3. International policy diffusion: socialisation and the domestic reception of international norms
4. Same-sex unions: the globalisation of an idea
5. Same-sex unions in the Netherlands and Germany: common norms, diverse policy models
6. Same-sex unions in Canada and the United States: international learning across the pond?
7. Conclusions: The same-sex unions revolution, its past and future


Kelly Kollman is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow

The same-sex unions revolution in Western democracies

By Kelly Kollman

Paperback £16.99 / $24.95

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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