Latin American voters support greater LGBT+ representation in politics, poll shows

A study carried out in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico reveals that the majority of the electorate supports increased representation of LGBT+ people in political spaces, and believes that diversity is important for democracy

  • 55% said they are in favor of increasing representation of LGBT+ people in politics

  • 63% agreed with LGBT+ people running for and holding public office

  • 63% believe that the diversity of voices that include LGBT+ people is an essential aspect of a democracy

Research commissioned by Luminate --  the global foundation working to ensure that everyone has the information, rights, and power to shape society – and conducted by Ipsos shows that of the 4,400 people polled, the majority (55%) in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico support the representation of LGBT+ people in political positions, and are in favor of greater representation. When comparing support for increased representation, Brazil stands out with 59%, followed by Argentina with 55%, and Colombia and Mexico, both with 51%.

In addition, 63% agreed to some extent with LGBT+ people running for and holding public office and believe that the diversity of voices that include LGBT+ people is an essential aspect of a democracy.

“Citizens want and deserve a truly representative democracy, in which all people, including LGBT+ people, can be active participants in building a more just society”, stated Felipe Estefan, Luminate’s Vice President for Latin America. “The version of democracy that people hope to see in the future includes all of the colors of the rainbow.” 

The survey Perceptions of LGBT+ Political Representation in Latin America also showed that, among the candidates of sexual and gender diversity, trans people face the greatest resistance from the electorate in the four countries. Forty nine per cent of the sample said they were completely comfortable with transgender people running and holding public office in their countries. For lesbian women, the result was 53%. For gay men, 52%.

Belief in equality drives support for representation
The study also revealed that the support for LGBT+ representation in politics is driven by a widely held value of equality for all, rather than by an acknowledgement of the unique contributions of LGBT+ people in public office. Among those surveyed, 60% were in support of implementing guidelines that promote equality, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of those in power. At the same time, less than half of the people surveyed, 47%, agree fully or partially that the lack of political representation of LGBT+ people in politics undermines efforts to protect the rights of the LGBT+ community.

Argentina is the country with the lowest recognition of the link between political representation and the protection of rights. Of those surveyed, 70% believe that it is not necessary to have LGBT+ people in power to advance in the protection of rights for the LGBT+ community. A minority of 40% of respondents somewhat agree or completely agree there's a relationship between representation and the promotion of LGBT+ rights.

Furthermore, only 18% of those surveyed in the four countries fully or partially supports LGBT+ politicians dedicating their work primarily to issues specific to the LGBT+ community, with Argentina having the lowest percentage of support for that approach at 16%.

When asked if they believe that LGBT+ people contribute a unique perspective to decision-making processes in politics, just 26% of the sample fully responded affirmatively.

“LGBT+ people face inequality, violence and discrimination in Latin America. Ensuring their participation in political life is essential to avoid setbacks and advance in the guarantee of their rights”, Estefan says. He also adds: “Moreover, LGBT+ bring plural views to issues that interest our society as a whole. We need to work collectively so that LGBT+ find space in political parties, can run for office, and once elected, have a safe environment to exercise their leadership role to promote the rights and equality for all people”.

About Luminate

Luminate is a global foundation working to ensure that everyone – especially those who are underrepresented - has the information, rights, and power to influence the decisions that shape society. The foundation is focused on enabling people to fully participate in civic and political life, to safely challenge power, and to access accurate, trustworthy information. Luminate works globally with a regional focus on Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It was established by philanthropists Pierre and Pam Omidyar and has worked for over a decade on issues related to governance and citizen engagement.

Survey Methodology

The quantitative research included 4,400 online panel interviews (1,000 in Argentina; 1,200 in Brazil; 1,000 in Colombia; and 1,200 in Mexico), of people over the age of 18. The study was carried out by Ipsos between April 27th and May 12th, 2023. The margin of error is 1.5 p.p. (Argentina: 3.1 p.p.; Brazil: 2.8 p.p.; Colombia: 3.1 p.p.; and Mexico: 2.8 p.p.).

Additional Findings

  • Voters’ belief in equality also informs the criteria that they claim to use when evaluating LGBT+ candidates, as the majority of those surveyed say they apply the same criteria to assess LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ candidates. When asked what attributes would be most important for an LGBT+ person running for president in each of their countries, the respondents listed competency (23%), professionalism (22%), ethics (20%), and openness to dialogue (10%)
  • 73% of those surveyed believe to some extent that LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ people are equally capable of being good political leaders
  • Only 20% totally or partially agree that a candidate’s sexual orientation should be taken into account when deciding for whom to vote
  • When asked about the main barriers to greater representation of LGBT+ people in politics, those surveyed pointed to prejudice and discrimination (49%) as the main obstacle. The other challenges surfaced were the lack of support from political parties (38%) and the fear of suffering from reprisals and threats (31%). Only 17% of the entire sample stated a belief that there are no barriers
  • When asked about affirmative measures in support of LGBT+ candidates, the majority of the sample in the four countries (56%) expressed full or partial support for equal distribution of resources from political parties to those candidates. The adoption of quotas had less support, with just 40% of those interviewed expressing support for fixed quotas in elected bodies for LGBT+ officials