Policy & Politics, 41(1) pp 101-121

This article explores the substantive representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in party manifestos in general elections and regional elections in the United Kingdom, 1945–2011. The findings show that while there is some evidence of progress, there is also significant variation in the attention that parties afford to LGBT issues, and a general failure to fully apply international principles and mainstreaming theory in election programmes. It is argued that an ‘asymmetrical electoral bargain’ applies: parties increasingly court LGBT voters yet often do so in a reductive and limited manner. This suggests that elements of institutionally homophobic practice endure in contemporary electoral politics.