This Year’s Most LGBTQ+ Friendly Cities in America

★🌈 Iowa says “gay rights!!!”


Via Charleston Pride

Find the full 2021 Municipality Equality Index Report here and find the score report for any of the cities here!


For the past ten years, The Human Rights Campaign has been assessing the nation’s cities’ on their municipal laws in relation to LGBTQ+ rights. In short, the evaluation serves as a tool for “municipal officials, policy makers and business leaders to understand how well cities across the nation are embodying LGBTQ+ inclusion in their laws, policies, and services,” according to The Human Rights Campaign.

Focusing on 506 cities, ranging from “Small Cities” to “Large Cities,” the Municipality Equality Index (MEI) aids in benchmarking and reflecting the progress (and possible further effort needed) of the cities in order to achieve equality for the LGBTQ+ Community.

*To interact with the map in fullscreen, click the three dots in the top right corner and then the computer icon*


The cities are scored based upon five different categories:

1. Non-Discrimination Laws: “Evaluates whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited within the city in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.”

2. Municipality as Employer: Analyzes the “respect for LGBTQ+ employees [that] is clearly demonstrated by the inclusiveness of these employment policies.”

3. Services and Programs: “Assesses the efforts of the city to include LGBTQ+ constituents in city services and programs.”

4. Law Enforcement: Gauges the level of  “respectful and fair enforcement [, which] includes responsible reporting of hate crimes, including for hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, to the FBI”

5. Leadership on LGBTQ+ Equality: “Measures the commitment of the city to include the LGBTQ+ community and to advocate for full equality.”


For the eighth year in a row, the highest scoring city was Iowa City, Iowa with an overachieving score of 112 out of 100. Their extra points

Iowa City Mayor, Bruce Teague, speaking at the 50th annual Iowa City Pride Festival. Via The Daily Iowan

likely resulted from them earning “flex points,” which can derive from the city having “openly LGBTQ+ people holding elected or appointed office in the municipality” and from “cities [doing] all they can in the face of state law that restricts their ability to pass LGBTQ+inclusive laws or policies.” In this case, Iowa City’s current mayor is Bruce Teague, an openly gay POC who has continuously been making strides towards creating a welcoming, nondiscriminatory city for his people. Following up Iowa City, include other “MEI All Stars,” such as New Orleans, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas who both earned a score of 100 out of 100.

*To interact with the map in fullscreen, click the three dots in the top right corner and then the computer icon*


Good News from this Year’s Report

  • The 2021 report had ” the largest number of top-scoring cities in MEI history, the highest overall average, and growth in every region of the country”


  • Out of all 506 cities assessed, 110 earned a perfect score of 100 points, which is ten times as many than when the report first debuted in 2012


  • 25% of the cities scored higher than 96 points, which is nearly 130 cities


  • Charleston, SC scored a total of 81 out 100 points, which greatly surpasses both Mount Pleasant, SC (32 out 100) and North Charleston (40 out of 100)