Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Jacqueline Braveboy-Wagner

Subject Categories

American Politics | International Relations | Social and Behavioral Sciences


LGBTIAQ* rights, U.S. Foreign Aid, Democracy, Democratization, Human Rights, Economic Development, Global South


U.S. democratization efforts abroad are sometimes framed as motive for U.S. aid allocations to Global South countries. In that regard, Jasbir Puar (2007 and 2013), Cynthia Weber (2016), and Laura J. Shepherd (2006) critique U.S. foreign policy for using LGBTIAQ* rights as an empty rhetoric rather than as benchmark by which to identify and reward countries’ level of democratization in the Global South. However, Claire Apodaga and Michael Stohl (1999) explain that the United States is prioritizing economic and security interests instead, whereas countries receive military support despite their human rights abuses at home. In this thesis, the relationship between democracy, human rights (including LGBTIAQ* acceptance) and foreign aid is assessed for 2017-2020. In addition, a qualitative analysis of two cases, Uruguay and Saudi Arabia, countries on the opposite side of the democracy and human rights spectrum, is undertaken to see if changes in U.S. foreign aid match changes in democratization. The results of both the quantitative and qualitative analysis show that there is no significant relationship and are in line with the findings of the scholars cited above. Yet the United States does not use aid for economic and security purposes alone. Democratization seems to be rewarded if civil and political rights are improved, whereas specific social issues such as LGBTIAQ* acceptance seem to matter less.