Equality Index Methodology

Equality Index Methodology

Equaldex’s Equality Index is a rating from 0 to 100 (with 100 being the most equal) to help visualize the legal rights and public attitudes towards LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex…) people in each region. The Equality Index is an average of two indexes: the legal index and the public opinion Index.

Legal Index

The LGBT legal index measures the current legal status of 13 different issues ranging from the legal status of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, transgender rights, LGBT discrimination protections, LGBT censorship laws, and more. Each topic is weighted differently (for example, if same-sex marriage is illegal in a region, it would have a much bigger impact on the score than not allowing LGBT people to serve in the military). Each topic is assigned a “total possible score” and a “score” is assigned based the status of the law using a rating scale that ranges from 0% to 100% (for example, if homosexuality is legal, it would would receive a score of 100, but if it’s illegal, it would receve a score of 0.)

If the status of an issue is unknown, not applicable, or no data has not been added to Equaldex, the issue’s score is completely discarded and not included in the ranking. In cases where a law varies throughout a region (for example, a country where same-sex marriage is legal in some states or provinces but not others), the score is averaged among all states or provinces, weighted equally.

Past laws that are no longer in effect do not impact the region’s current score. New laws that have not gone into effect yet will not impact the region’s score until the day it goes into effect.

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Public Opinion Index

The LGBT public opinion index measures the public attitudes towards LGBT people using surveys and polls from reputable organizations. This index is scored based on averaging the results of all surveys in a given region. Generally, the value averaged is usually the most “equal” response in the poll. For example, if a poll asked “Do you support same-sex marriage?” and 56% of people said “yes”, the value “56” would be used. In some cases, a survey may be weighted less if the survey is very specific or includes a specific group of people (such as Christians) and might not be a full representation of the overall attitudes of the region.

To better represent current attitudes, surveys are scored using a time-decay weighting method based on the date published. This means that the most recent surveys carry more weight in the public opinion index. Surveys from the current year and the previous year receive full weight. However, for surveys older than two years, an exponential decay of 75% applies each year. This weight decay ensures that the public opinion index is always most influenced by the most recent data, reflecting evolving public attitudes, while still taking into account older surveys to maintain a comprehensive overview. This change went into effect on July 21, 2023.

Note that public opinion data is not available in every region. In these cases, the Equality Index will only be a representation of the legal rights of LGBT people in the region. Additionally, some regions have no recent public opinion data available, so older data is used to score the region.

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  • Equaldex’s Equality Index is constantly being improved and tracking it over time may not represent changes in equality over time. As more data is contributed to Equaldex, the index becomes more accurate. For example, adding survey results to a region will likely change the region’s Equality Index — even more so if there is limited data on the region. In this case, the change in score could represent a change in attitudes in the region, but it may also just be an increase in the index’s accuracy.
  • Global opinion surveys rarely include transgender topics. Especially in more conservative regions, surveys are usually limited to homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Equaldex continues to seek more international transgender public opinion data to make the Equality Index more inclusive.
  • The model for the Equality Index is evolving, and adjustments to weights and other parameters are likely as we continue to improve its accuracy and relevance.
  • The Equality Index is updated automatically as data is added to Equaldex and as new laws go into effect. When a new law or survey is added to Equaldex, the index will recalculate within a few hours.

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