Across the globe, society is changing. Countries worldwide are adapting their laws to recognize LGBTQ rights: we can now add both Austria and Australia to the list approving same-sex marriage. And hopefully with time, areas where gay people are treated as second-class citizens will also change. So, where are the best places to live or visit if you're LGBTQ?
To date, Spain and the Netherlands seem to be the most gay-friendly countries in the world, according to their residents. In a 2016 Gallup poll, residents of both EU nations were asked if their country was a good place for gay and lesbian citizens, and the vast majority of residents in both instances responded with a resounding yes.
While worldwide trends point towards an increasing acceptance of homosexuality, there are still certain countries that hold restrictive laws that limit the rights of LGBTQ individuals. However, the countries that advocate strongly for LGBTQ rights are, at times, a surprise. In our list of the top 10 most gay-friendly countries, some of the more conservative offerings may come as a surprise...
Spain is one of the most welcoming and relaxed nations in Europe. The country's laid-back lifestyle and fantastic travel destinations should give the country a top spot on every gay traveler's list of must-see places. The overwhelming majority of residents in Spain are advocates of LGBTQ rights; a whopping 87 percent think their country is a good place for gay and lesbian people to settle down.
Additionally, 88 percent of Spanish residents support same-sex marriage. Throughout Spain, you'll find plenty of welcoming and cool gay events and places of interest. Some of the most popular gay events in Spain include Madrid Gay Pride and Circuit Festival in Barcelona. Find a place to stay in Madrid or Barcelona.
© Ted Eytan, Flickr
The Netherlands is known for more than just their windmills and tulips! This incredibly liberal country is also famous for the fantastic lifestyle if offers to LGBTQ residents. As the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage, it's no surprise that the Netherlands is home to a bustling gay and lesbian scene that includes an amazing nightlife and many gay-friendly businesses. Of course, the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, is one of the most liberal, easy, and gay places on Earth! Find a place to stay in gay Amsterdam.
© Alf van Beem, Wikipedia
Yep, Canada is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. In fact, Canadians support gay rights in an overwhelming majority; more than 84 percent of the population think that their country is a great place for gay and lesbian people to live. In fact, on July 20, 2005, Canada became the first country outside of Europe to legalize same sex-marriage.
Today, Canada is one of the leading countries for advancing gay rights throughout the world. Canadians proudly participate in, and host a number of gay pride events and festivals throughout the year in major cities such as Montreal and Vancouver. Find a place to stay in Montreal or Vancouver.
© Marc Falardeau, Flickr
Belgium may be small, but its overall impact on progressing gay rights is far from small. In fact, Belgium leads the charge on LGBTQ friendliness with 82 percent of its population agreeing that the small European nation is a wonderful place for gay residents. In 2003, Belgium was the second country to legalize same-sex marriage, and in 2006 the Belgian Parliament voted to grant homosexual couples the right to adopt children.
Additionally, Belgium is known for its fantastic international gay parties like La Démence. If Belgium is on your itinerary, make it a point to visit gay Brussels and experience the city's gay festivals and nightlife. Visitors to Belgium in the spring should make it a point to be there for Belgian Pride. Find a place to stay in Brussels.
More than 87 percent of German residents support gay rights, and, finally, in 2017, the German government voted to allow same-sex marriage. Indeed, Germany is a country that's welcoming to all.
The country is known for its gay scene and is home to some of the best queer parties, events, venues and festivals in the entire world. Its ultra-hip capital, Berlin, is warm, welcoming and considered one of Europe's best gay destinations. Find a place to stay in Berlin.
Norway was one of the first countries in the world to give equal rights to all its citizens, and in 2008, the country adopted laws in favor of same-sex marriage. Norwegians are well-known for their liberal attitudes, and more than 80 percent of Norway's residents think their country is a great place for LGBTQ people to call home.
Throughout the year, Norway is home to a number of LGBTQ cultural events, parades and even gay skiing festivals. The biggest LGBTQ event is arguably Oslo Pride. The massive yearly event attracts thousands of people to celebrate and support LGBTQ causes and rights through culture, art, politics and parties. Find a place to stay in Oslo.
© Ggaadd, Flickr
They may be Down Under, but the people of Australia can now claim to be on top when it comes to the list of LGBTQ-friendly countries! As of November 2017, the vast majority of Australians - 61.6 percent - voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
Indeed, the Australian city of Sydney is among the most gay-friendly cities in the world: the sprawling metropolis is also home to one of the country's most popular gay events, Gay Mardi Gras. Meanwhile, Melbourne offers up more when it comes to the alternative gay side of life. Find a place to stay in Sydney or Melbourne.
© Hasitha Tudugalle, Flickr
France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and rightly so; the country has everything. France boasts a wealth of culture and arts, great skiing in the Alps, and the sunny Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines.
For LGBTQ visitors, France, and its beautiful capital, Paris, is a wonderful place to visit. The gay-friendly country legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, and it was the first country ever to decriminalize homosexuality... way back in 1791! Find a place to stay in Paris.
© Henri Garat, Mairie de Paris
Israel is the most progressive country in the Middle East. In fact, many consider Israel to be the gay capital of the region. The country's attitude towards LGBTQ rights is very liberal, especially in Tel Aviv. Although there are no civil unions, Israel has okayed surrogacy abroad, and the number of gay families has really taken off.
Each summer, many LGBTQ visitors enjoy coming to Tel Aviv to enjoy the best that Israel has to offer. The city is alive with a dazzling nightlife and great culinary experiences. Additionally, throughout the year, Tel Aviv is host to a number of gay festivals, events and celebrations, including the hugely popular Tel Aviv Gay Pride. Find a place to stay gay in Tel Aviv.
US embassy in Tel Aviv, © Wikipedia
Iceland offers a small but very active and open gay scene. The liberal country of Iceland is home to the world's first openly gay head of state. Former Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, took office in 2009, and in 2010 same-sex marriage was legalized in Iceland.
Today, Iceland welcomes gay and lesbian visitors with open arms. The country's most active gay scenes are located in the capital Reykjavík, and in the growing community of Akureyri. Find a place to stay in Iceland. ●
© Helgihalldorsson, Flickr
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