ILGA-Europe are the European Regional arm of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

For the last 20 years they have been publishing detailed statistics on a wide range of issues affecting the lives of LGBTI people. Their ranking is based on a wide range of indicators; covering everything from equality, family issues and hate speech to legal gender recognition, freedom of expression and asylum rights.

These benchmarking measures were first used by ILGA-Europe in 2009. They are always evolving, and now include many new metrics relating to sex characteristics within the equality and non-discrimination section, and a completely new category for civil space (the right to hold public events etc)

From the ILGA “How does ILGA-Europe decide on these rankings? The rankings are based on how the laws and policies of each country impact on the lives of LGBTI people. The ranking records a country’s legal standards for comparison with its European neighbours but the numbers only provide one part of the story. Our Annual Review gives a more nuanced, detailed overview of every country’s progress over the last twelve months and has a chapter dedicated to each country as well as developments at international level.”

As can be seen from the summary graph of all categories, the European picture varies from the Maltese some way out in front at 90+% (they score 100% in some sections), and the ‘no surprises’ bottom of the list with Azerbaijan scoring just 3.3%. 

Spain comes in at 11th and the UK in 9th, within 2 points of each other at 60% and 62% respectively. But as the publishers say themselves, it isn’t all about the numbers. These rankings are drawn on quantifiable factors of national law and regulations, they do not necessarily reflect the day to day life experiences of people in those countries.

An example most people will be able to relate to is in sexual discrimination in employment. Both Britain and Spain have passed sexual equality legislation, however the effect of new laws is never immediate, and some would say both countries still have some way to go in equality between the sexes in recruitment and in the workplace. However, few would argue that the situation has not improved overall since the legislation was introduced. To be fully effective, the state needs law, policing of the law, but also the hearts and minds of its people. 

Read the full range of criteria here

Assess criteria and country here