LGBT Equality Index in Central America

The most LGBT-Friendly Places in Central America

The Equality Index measures the current status of LGBT rights, laws, and freedoms as well as public attitudes towards LGBT people.
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Equality Index ?
0 (Less Equal)
100 (More Equal)

Central America Equality Index

Which countries are the most LGBT-friendly?

The Legal Index scores the legal rights and freedoms LGBTQ+ people have while the Public Opinion Index scores how the general public feels in each region.

CountryEquality IndexLegal IndexPublic Opinion Index
1. Mexico78 / 100100 / 10057 / 100
2. Costa Rica729251
3. Belize666368
4. Nicaragua516339
5. Guatemala517031
6. El Salvador496633
7. Honduras496929
8. Panama435235

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.

Legal Index = (Total Possible Score for each issue × Factor of Status of Issue) / Sum of all Total Possible Scores

IssueTotal Possible ScoreStatusFactor
Homosexual activity100Legal×1.00
Illegal (other penalty)×0.30
Male illegal, female legal×0.50
Male illegal, female uncertain×0.40
Illegal (death penalty as punishment)×0.00
Illegal (up to life in prison as punishment)×0.10
Illegal (imprisonment as punishment)×0.20
Same-sex marriage60Legal×1.00
Other type of partnership×0.50
Foreign same-sex marriages recognized only×0.40
Unrecognized, same-sex marriage and civil unions banned×0.30
Unrecognized, only same-sex marriage official×0.20
Unrecognized×0.10
Unregistered cohabitation×0.10
Not legal×0.00
Civil unions×0.70
Censorship of LGBT Issues45Imprisonment as punishment×0.00
Fine as punishment×0.30
Other punishment×0.15
No censorship×1.00
State-enforced×0.40
Right to change legal gender40Legal, surgery not required×1.00
Illegal×0.00
Legal, but requires surgery×0.70
Legal recognition of non-binary gender30Recognized×1.00
Not legally recognized×0.00
Intersex only×0.70
LGBT discrimination25Illegal×1.00
No protections×0.00
Illegal in some contexts×0.50
LGBT employment discrimination20Sexual orientation and gender identity×1.00
No protections×0.00
Sexual orientation only×0.50
LGBT housing discrimination20Sexual orientation and gender identity×1.00
Sexual orientation only×0.50
No protections×0.00
Same-sex adoption15Legal×1.00
Married couples only×0.50
Single only×0.40
Step-child adoption only×0.20
Illegal×0.00
Serving openly in military15Legal×1.00
Don't Ask, Don't Tell×0.50
Illegal×0.00
Lesbians, gays, bisexuals permitted, transgender people banned×0.70
Blood donations by MSMs10Legal×1.00
Banned (indefinite deferral)×0.00
Banned (5-year deferral)×0.10
Banned (1-year deferral)×0.15
Banned (6-month deferral)×0.20
Banned (3-month deferral)×0.30
Conversion therapy15Banned×1.00
Not banned×0.00
Equal age of consent10Equal×1.00
Unequal×0.00

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.

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. In some regions with no recent public opinion data, older data is used to score the region.

Notes

  • 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.