Social Acceptance of LGBTI People in 175 Countries and Locations

1981 to 2020
November 2021

This report analyzes survey data from 175 different countries and locations to produce the Global Acceptance Index, a measure of the relative level of social acceptance of LGBTI people and rights in each country. The report was conducted as part of the Multi-Donor LGBTI Global Human Rights Initiative.

Globally, the average level of acceptance for LGBTI people has increased since 1980.
Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada are the top five most accepting countries, and acceptance has increased over time.
Australia and Oceania, North and South America, and Western Europe have had positive changes in acceptance since 1990.
Data Points
countries have experienced an increase in acceptance since 1981

Executive Summary

This report describes updates to the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex) Global Acceptance Index (GAI), which seeks to measure the relative level of acceptance of LGBTI people and issues in each country for a specific time period. 

Understanding acceptance and rejection of LGBTI people lies at the heart of understanding violence, discrimination, and the multitude of negative consequences arising from exclusion and unfair treatment. Sexual and gender minorities all over the world are heavily impacted by the attitudes and beliefs of those around them. Low levels of acceptance are tied to bullying and violence, physical and mental health problems, discrimination in employment, and underrepresentation in positions of civic leadership. Additionally, exclusion can result in lower levels of workforce productivity and decreased business profits. 

Updates to the Global Acceptance Index. Using an advanced statistical model, the author updated the Global Acceptance Index to measure acceptance in 175 countries and geographic locations. Acceptance is the extent to which LGBTI people are seen in ways that are positive and inclusive, both with respect to an individual’s opinions about LGBTI people and with regard to an individual’s position on LGBTI policies. Updates included an expanded database of social surveys that measure attitudes toward LGBTI people and rights (drawing upon data from AfroBarometer, America’s Barometer, Eurobarometer, European Social Survey, European Values Survey, Gallup World Poll, International Social Survey Programme, Ipsos International, Latinobarómetro, Pew Global surveys, and World Values Surveys); the addition of surveys collecting information pertaining specifically to transgender people, intersex people, and rights related to transgender and intersex people; and modifications to the estimation process to increase estimation accuracy. 

The resulting dataset included 6,198 country-question-years (meaning results for a particular country in a particular year for a particular question) under analysis with 98 different question wordings, 175 different countries and locations, and 37 years. The combined individual-level sample involves 7,059,822 responses to questions relating to LGBTI people and rights. 


Continued Polarization

Globally, the average level of acceptance has increased since 1980. 

  • 56 of 175 countries and locations experienced increases in acceptance since 1980. 
  • 57 countries and locations experienced a decline. 
  • 62 countries and locations experienced no change. 
  • Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States have all increased their acceptance of LGBTI people and rights. 
  • In 2020, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada were the most accepting countries. 
  • Countries in Australia and Oceania, North and South America, and Western Europe have had positive changes in their GAI scores since 1990. Trends in the GAI in other regions have either not changed over this timeframe or trended slightly downward. 
  • In the past decade, the range of levels of acceptance has increased. Levels of acceptance have become less polarized, yet 
  • The most accepting countries have experienced increased levels of acceptance. 
  • The least accepting countries have experienced decreased levels of acceptance. 
  • Levels of acceptance in countries near the global average have stayed relatively stable, though stable attitudes are also present for countries that have long been more accepting and less accepting. 
  • Peru, Mozambique, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Palestine each had very little change in acceptance between 2010 and 2020.
Social Acceptance of LGBTI People in 175 Countries and Locations