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Queer-friendly destinations in Europe, Oceania, Asia & Africa


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Europe

Likely the most relaxed about gay and lesbian travel and people should have few problems. Germany, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Britain, France, Spain and Portugal are likely the most accepting. Tolerance declines markedly as one goes further east. In Russia the spurious and ill-defined act of "advocating homosexuality among minors" has been forbidden since 2013; this may include expressing your orientation in the presence of minors.

IbizaGran CanariaSitges (all in Spain) and Mykonos (Greece) are the hottest gay holiday destinations that Europe has to offer.

Austria

Belgium

Czech Republic

Denmark

Finland

Like elsewhere LGBT acceptance has risen quickly. A former chairwoman of an LGBT rights association has been president, Tom of Finland art is sold in flagship fashion shops, marriage law is gender neutral (since 2017) and explicitly gender neutral toilets are becoming common in some cities. Official Finland and a majority of the population have a very supportive or at least relaxed attitude on LGBT issues. This does however not mean acceptance everywhere.

  • Helsinki (the capital) is the most LGBT-lively place in Finland. You can be safely openly gay, or lesbian, or bi, or trans. The tourist office has info for LGBT folks. Both of the LGBT nightclubs in Helsinki are located just around one corner at Mannerheimintie and Lönnrotinkatu streets.
  • Pori is a nice mid-sized town. Pride, music culture and the Yyteri beach with sand dunes can all be found here.
  • Oulu – Oulu Pride is the northernmost Pride event in the world.

France

  • Lyon
  • Montpellier
  • Nîmes
  • Paris – Over 300 different gay and lesbian venues, concentrated around Le Marais, in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements.
  • Provence – Southern France brings gay travellers a new experience in travelling with the French gay and lesbian community in Provence sharing their love and knowledge of the country.

Germany

  • Berlin – Berlin has a pretty widespread gay community, mostly in Schöneberg, but gay couples can be seen pretty much anywhere. The only places where caution should taken are Lichtenberg and Neukölln: historically not very tolerant groups live there, however, NeuKölln is nowadays the new hip part of the city. Near Kufürstendamm there are a lot of gay bars.
  • Hamburg – The gay heart of the city is called St. Georg with the famous "Lange Reihe" as the gay street in Hamburg. Also the "Pulverfass" has many gay or gay-friendly locations, e.g. bars, shops, restaurants and clubs. For a more sexual connotation visit the local red light district "Reeperbahn" and its many junctions, in particular the "Talstraße" which is the other clearly "gay-labelled" street in Hamburg with gay cinemas, bars and clubs

Greece

Hungary

  • Budapest – Thermal bath and spa capital of Central Europe with a lively gay scene.

Ireland

Iceland

Italy

Netherlands

  • Amsterdam is known as the gay capital of Europe, although these days many other destinations are at least as gay friendly. Still, many clubs have special gay nights every week. A certain area known as Reguliersdwarsstraat, though quite modest in size, is full of cafés where gay people are more common than heterosexuals. Every summer there is the Gay Pride Parade, taking place in the canals in the city centre.

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Turkey

  • Istanbul had a considerable gay life and tons of gay bars and clubs mainly around Taksim and Beyoglu districts. A big gay & lesbian parade (Pride Istanbul) ran from 2007 to 2014. The situation has deteriorated as a result of widespread crackdowns on free speech, journalism and dissent after a failed 2016 coup attempt. Public protest has been silenced; the Ankara governor’s office imposed a ban on all LGBTI cultural events in 2017. Open threats of violence from ultra-nationalist groups also pose a risk.

United Kingdom

The Big 3 are widely known as Brighton, London and Manchester. Same-sex marriage is legal throughout the United Kingdom and British law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

  • London – The second highest percentage of gay people in UK after Brighton, but given the massive size of the city, is really second to none. Hundreds of clubs with different types of people and nationalities are waiting for you.
  • Manchester – One of the gay party capitals with a huge amount of gay nightlife. The largest major city gay population outside London. Reportedly largest gay village in Europe.
  • Brighton – The highest percentage of gay people in Europe, with a lot of style, creativity, and great nightlife.
  • Edinburgh – One of the most tolerant cities in Europe. The second highest major city gay population outside London, after Manchester.
  • Birmingham Has a large and vibrant gay scene and gay village in the Hurst Street/China Town district of the city.
  • Sheffield Hosts numerous gay bars & clubs spread throughout the city centre.
  • Hebden Bridge, a small town in West Yorkshire, has the highest proportion of lesbians in the UK.

Oceania

Australia and New Zealand are among the world's most LGBT-friendly destinations, with acceptance of LGBT people on par with Western Europe. On the other hand, most other countries in the region are strongly-conservative Christian moral societies, and thus tend to strongly disapprove of homosexuality.

Australia

Australia is a very safe destination for LGBT people. The majority of Australians are accepting of homosexuality, and acceptance is almost universal among the younger generation. Same-sex marriage was legalised on 12 December 2017 following the results of a nationwide postal ballot. Australian law also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

  • Alice Springs – it's suggested that Alice Springs has the most LGBT people per capita in Australia – so it's truly a friendly place. The area has several queer friendly accommodation establishments and is also home to the Alice is Wonderland festival – held just after the Sydney Mardi Gras.
  • Sydney – host of the country's largest tourist event, the annual Sydney Mardi Gras, which attracts millions of queer-friendly visitors to the city every year. The majority of gay bars are located along Oxford Street in the CBD.
  • Melbourne – a cultural hub of fantastic museums, art exhibits, and restaurants. The gay community is mostly centred in the suburbs of South Yarra and Prahan, which unsurprisingly is home to most of the gay nightclubs. Gay pubs, on the other hand, are largely concentrated in the areas of St Kilda and Fitzroy.
  • Brisbane – while not as well-known as Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane is also a gay-friendly city, with much of the LGBT community being concentrated in the suburbs of Fortitude Valley, New Farm, and Teneriffe.
  • Perth – although there is no dedicated gay district, Perth is in general a gay-friendly city, with several gay nightclubs and bars located in the main night life area of Northbridge. The suburbs of Maylands and Bayswater are also known for their large number of LGBT residents.
  • Cairns – one of the best spots to see the Great Barrier Reef from, using one of the many gay-friendly local operators
  • Adelaide – although there is no gay district, by and large the general population is accepting of homosexuality, and the vast majority of bars and nightclubs are gay-friendly.

New Zealand

New Zealand is a gay-friendly destination, with same-sex marriage having been legalised since 19 August 2013. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation has been illegal since 1993.

  • Auckland – the city comes alive around 1AM, full of incredible restaurants, pubs with live music, and great dancing places in 'K Road'.
  • Vinegar Hill – a camping ground in the Manawatu that hosts a large gay and lesbian camp over Christmas/New Year.

Asia

China

There are no laws against homosexuality in China, and people are generally tolerant towards gays and lesbians with unprovoked violence against homosexuals being extremely rare. Still, homosexuals should keep a low profile, as there is heavy censorship of homosexual-themed (or featured) media by the government. Shanghai Pride began in 2009 without a parade, due to fears that the government would not allow it. Same-sex marriage is not recognized by the government.

  • Shanghai – Home to the first-ever Pride Festival in mainland China

Hong Kong

There are no laws against homosexuality in Hong Kong although same-sex marriage is not officially recognised. In this conservative society sexuality is still generally not discussed in public. For youngsters is quite different; there are some hip gay clubs that could well be in London, New York or Madrid that cater to locals and tourists and the city held its first Gay Pride Parade in 2008. Anti-homosexual violence is virtually unheard off, and gay and lesbian couples should generally not run into any major issues.

Israel

  • Tel Aviv Israel's gay capital. Extremely lively and liberal city, with dozens of gay venues, parties and activities. Many locals are completely blasé regarding sexual diversity.

Japan

There are no laws against homosexuality in Japan, though same-sex relationships are also not recognised by the Japanese government. Acceptance of homosexuality among the Japanese public tends to be somewhat lower than in Western countries. That being said, given Japan's low violent crime rate, homosexuals are extremely unlikely to encounter unprovoked violent attacks.

  • Tokyo – Shinjuku ni-chome is the largest gay district in the nation
  • Osaka – Doyama-cho is Osaka's gay district
  • Sapporo – Home to a few gay establishments and hosts its own annual Pride Parade. It has the largest gay community in northern Japan
  • Fukuoka – Kyushu's largest city and most gay-friendly city, you'll find many of its gay venues in the Sumiyoshi ward
  • Nagoya – Sakae yon-chome in the Joshidai area is home to Nagoya's gay venues

Nepal

Nepal was the first nation in South Asia to decriminalize homosexuality, and same-sex marriage has been legalized. In 2011, the nation's tourism industry focused heavily on attracting gay tourism, trying to entice them with gay marriages on Mount Everest. The government is making moves to ensure that the police will enforce laws protecting homosexuals (and not discriminate themselves). Gay travellers in Nepal should still remain conservative; although the government is making changes, local attitudes about homosexuality remain negative and some resent being seen as a "gay travel" destination.

Philippines

  • Manila – Known as the gay capital of Asia. Most gay-friendly or LGBT-friendly destinations are found in the city and are owned by LGBTs themselves.
  • Cebu – There are active LGBT organizations and gay-friendly restaurants and cafes in Cebu.
  • Cagayan de Oro

South Korea

South Korea does not have any laws against homosexuality, though there is also no legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Same-sex relationships are not recognised by the South Korean government. Acceptance among the South Korean public tends to be negative, and evangelical Christians in particular will likely strongly disapprove of it. That being said, your chance of encountering anti-homosexual violence is close to none.

Taiwan

As far as East Asian countries go, Taiwan is considered to be one of the most gay-friendly areas. Taiwan does not have any laws against homosexuality, and became the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2019. Anti-homosexual violence is extremely rare, and younger Taiwanese tend to be more accepting of homosexuality.

  • Taipei – an annual gay parade event known as Taiwan Pride is held there between September and November

Thailand

Thailand is a long-established popular destination for LGBT tourism, and there are no laws against homosexuality in Thailand. However, same-sex marriage is not recognised by the Thai government.

  • Bangkok – Known for its gay tolerance, and its gay festivals.
  • Chiang Mai – The heart of northern Thailand, much more relaxed than the capital, and held its first gay pride parade in 2019.
  • Pattaya – Many homosexual clubs and bars.
  • Phuket – Popular in the transgender community for medical tourism as skilled practitioners offer sex reassignment surgery at a reasonable cost.

Vietnam

No laws against homosexuality have ever existed in Vietnam.

  • Hanoi – Hosted Vietnam's first gay pride parade in 2012.
  • Ho Chi Minh City – Has the largest and most visible LGBT community in Vietnam.

Africa

There are few good choices in this region; many African governments continue to hunt homosexuals as criminals, and extreme homophobia continues to be very widespread among the general population. As a notable exception, South Africa has sought to break with this history by constitutionally prohibiting discrimination as part of a larger effort to sever ties to the country's apartheid-era past.

South Africa

  • Cape Town – Easily the most liberal and gay-friendly city in South Africa, and considered the "gay capital" of Africa. Gay nightlife centred around the Greenpoint district and holds the Mother City Queer Project (MCQP) every December.

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