Nordic region among the most LGBTQI-friendly in the world | Polarjournal
Pride parades have been a way for the LGBTQI community worldwide to call for more rights and equality and to raise public awareness for years. The cheerful and colorful parades have also become an integral part of the annual program in Arctic communities (here in Tromsø). Picture: Arctic Pride

The discussion about equality for people who belong to the LGBTQI community is also being held in the Arctic countries. What is their legal and social status, how are they recognized or are they criminalized? Statistics compiled by Equaldex, an online publication source for LGBTQI rights, show a positive picture for some Arctic countries.

The LGBTQI Equality Index compiled by Equaldex, which covers 197 countries, is led by three Arctic nations: Iceland, Denmark and Norway. Canada follows in fifth place, completing half of the Arctic nations in the top 5 countries with the highest equality index. The other four countries are slightly further back in 15th (Finland), 17th (Sweden), 23rd (USA) and 130th (Russia). By comparison, Germany is ranked 12th, France 20th, Austria 25th and Switzerland 32nd, making the Nordic countries overall among the countries where the LGBTQI community is best recognized both legally and socially.

The map created by Equaldex with the LGBTQI Equality Index shows a positive picture for most Nordic countries. The index includes both the legal and the social view of the national LGBTQI community. Map: Equaldex

The index created is an average value ranging from zero (no equality at all) to 100 (best equality). It is calculated from two other indices: the Legal Index and the Public Opinion Index. The former represents the current legal situation affecting the LGBTQI community in each country and includes laws such as same-sex marriage, laws on homosexuality and censorship laws. The Public Opinion Index, on the other hand, covers public opinion and attitudes towards the LGBTQI community and is based on surveys conducted by reputable opinion institutes. Both indices were developed by Equaldex and are clearly mathematically comprehensible.

The organization not only looked at the individual countries, but also grouped them into regions. Here, too, the Nordic region was found to be the most LGBTQI-friendly of the 23 regions, followed by the North American region and the Australia-New Zealand region.

So are Arctic countries more LGBTQI-friendly than other countries? Not necessarily, because there are still some major regional hurdles for the community, especially among the indigenous Arctic peoples such as the Inuit or Sámi, who have to reconcile their traditional way of life with modern social lifestyles. Photo: Facebook Arctic Pride

So are the Nordic and Arctic nations the best places for the LGBTQI community? Not necessarily, as a slightly more detailed look shows. It is true that most regions such as Alaska, Greenland, Nunavut or the Nordic regions beyond the Arctic Circle are legally subject to national laws and benefit from the liberal places and large cities in the south, especially when it comes to the Public Opinion Index POI. If only the POI of the Arctic regions themselves were included in the index, the picture would be somewhat relativized. For example, no POI data is available for Greenland and Nunavut at all, although both scored a whopping 94 (Greenland) and 93 (Nunavut) out of 100 on the legal index; and in Alaska, the state ranks at the middle to lower end of the index nationally, primarily due to a high rejection of transgender issues, same-sex marriage and equality for same-sex couples among the population. Even in the Arctic regions of the Nordic countries and Canada, the LGBTQI community still struggles against many prejudices, especially LGBTQI members from the indigenous population, who encounter incomprehension and even rejection from traditionalist circles with their modern way of life.

At the very bottom of the ranking of Arctic nations and in the list of countries is Russia. For the past 10 years, laws have been passed that have made life increasingly difficult for members of the LGBTQI community. The temporary climax was reached at the end of November with a law that classifies the community as “extremist”, paving the way for persecution by the authorities.

So it turns out that some Arctic nations can offer hope for the LGBTQI community. But a cold wind is still blowing, making it difficult to create any rainbow.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

Link to the Equaldex website

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