PFLAG uses data to keep travelers safe

A new global platform reimagines the Pride flag as an online data tool to keeps LGBT people informed while abroad.

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PFLAG is using big data to power a campaign that helps LGBT-identified tourists stay informed and safe when choosing destinations to visit.

Developed by FCB/Six, the Destination Pride project reimagines the Pride flag as a graph. Each colour is repurposed as a bar that represents different factors that contribute to how safe an LGBT-identified person could expect to be while visiting a particular area.

Red represents marriage equality progress, orange tracks sexual activity laws and yellow legal protections for gender identity and expression. Green represents anti-discrimination laws while blue represents civil protections in areas like military service, blood donation, adoption and conversion therapy. The purple bar is used to measure sentiment towards LGBT people and issues expressed by social media accounts based in a country or city over the last 90 days, using data from social analytics tool Netbase.

Users can go to the Destination Pride website and get data for most major cities and countries. Ian Mackenzie, ECD at FCB/Six, said the vision behind the project was to use data to track both the things that tend to move slow like marriage equality laws, as well things that can change in a moment, like social media sentiment.


The rankings in each category are used to give an overall score out of 100, but having the visualization of the factors contributing to that score is a useful tool. For example, while Toronto ranks highly in the red, orange and yellow bars, its scores on civil rights and social media sentiment are lower, giving it an overall score of 67.

“Since it was created by Gilbert Baker 40 years ago, the pride flag has been a symbol of welcome,” said Louis Duncan-He, national director of marketing for PFLAG Canada. “No matter where members of our community go, the flag says safety, hospitality and love. But for LGBTQ+ travellers today, that welcome is not equal across all destinations. Even the relatively simple act of choosing a place to visit can be the difference between sunsets and stare-downs, or worse. There’s never been a single, searchable tool that makes this volume and type of data so accessible.”

In addition to being a tool to help travelers navigate these realities, it is also the centrepiece of a new campaign aimed at driving awareness for the site and the issue of staying safe while abroad.

PFLAG has launched three videos telling the story of a lesbian couple getting engaged in Paris, a gay man looking for a partner in Kuwait and a trans woman’s first flight after transitioning that show very different but very real experiences LGBT people can face in a new country. More videos will be released online in the coming weeks.

The campaign also features digital out-of-home, as well as targeted social buys in the cities that had some of the highest scores – Toronto (67), San Francisco (69) and Sydney, Australia (72) – but also the lowest, such as Moscow (35), Mumbai (15), Kingston, Jamaica (27) and Kampala, Uganda (8). All of the social ads show the city’s Destination Pride score, but also three different locations that have a higher score and are only a short flight away.