This article outlines the advantages of a deliberative democratic approach to ‘illiberal cultures’ and polarised debates in contemporary multicultural societies. In doing so, it draws on the insights of agonistic pluralism, and shows that a cross-fertilisation between certain variants of deliberative democracy and agonistic pluralism is both possible and desirable. Focusing particularly on the works of John Dryzek and William Connolly, the article highlights three normative criteria for polities to aspire to, if not fully achieve, to democratise the debates over illiberal cultural practices. These include: i) an expanded notion of inclusion underpinned by the principle of agonistic respect; ii) the presence of spaces that facilitate interaction and contestation among the multiple publics of a culturally contested issue; and iii) the generation of concrete outcomes based on discursive contestation among multiple publics. To illustrate how approximation to these criteria might look in practice, the article focuses on the example of the honour-killing debate in Britain.