Which European cities are most welcoming to queer people?


Following a travel warning issued for LGBTQ+ tourists in Greece, these are the European countries that are most welcoming to queer people.

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When same-sex marriage was legalised in Greece back in February, LGBTQ+ campaigners celebrated.

Now, though, the British Foreign Office has issued new travel advice for queer people travelling to the country.

An update, published on the UK government’s foreign travel advice page, has warned that same-sex couples could experience discrimination in certain parts of Greece.

While it states that “attitudes are generally much more welcoming in Athens and on many Greek islands, particularly on Lesvos, Mykonos and Skiathos,” there are concerns that queer visitors could face prejudice elsewhere.

The government advice also adds: “Public attitudes towards same-sex sexual activity vary throughout the country; showing affection in public by same-sex couples may be frowned upon, especially in rural areas.”

The warning comes after a mob attack against two transgender people in Thessaloniki last month, during which the victims were verbally assaulted and bottles were thrown at them.

Where does Greece stand on same-sex marriage today?

Greece is making great strides in LGBTQ+ acceptance, having banned so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for minors in 2022 and passing the same-sex marriage law with a parliamentary majority of 176-76 in February.

However, the popular tourist destination still remains divided over the practice.

As soon as the vote passed, protests broke out in the country, led by the Orthodox church.

Around 1,500 people took to Athens’ Syntagma Square to oppose the change and a poll by Greek national newspaper Proto Thema found that only 55 per cent of Greek people support the legalisation of gay marriage. Even fewer back gay adoption rights.

Despite the opposition, in legalising same-sex marriage, Greece has become the only country in southeastern Europe to do so – joining 15 other EU member states and a further 35 nations worldwide.

But which destinations on the continent and further afield are the most accepting of the LGBTQ+ community?

Lisbon, Copenhagen and Amsterdam are among the most welcoming LGBTQ+ destinations globally

Experts at Emisil – a company that provides prosthetics for trans men – delved into the most queer-friendly spots in Europe and worldwide.

Lisbon, Copenhagen and Amsterdam came in first, second and fourth places in the top 10 list respectively.

Using information about same-sex marriage and gender recognition laws, as well as the safety index and Global Trans Index 2023, Emisil’s study also looked at the number of queer clubs and bars listed on Google Maps. That gave a representation of larger trends, providing a final ranking based on all these criteria, giving each city investigated a score out of 10.

Lisbon is officially the most queer-friendly place in the world, coming in with a score of 9.26, which represents the high safety of the city and the general positive attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Overall, Portugal has the highest Global Trans Index rating out of all countries in the study, with a score of 248 out of 250 – which encompasses gender recognition, laws against discrimination and low rates of hate crimes.

Its capital city also plays host to countless queer events, including Lisbon Bear Pride and Lisbon Gay Pride.

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Just behind the Portuguese city was Copenhagen in Denmark.

Taking second place with a score of 9.22, the Scandinavian city has a smaller queer scene, with only 12 queer bars and clubs mentioned on Google Maps. However, the sheer number of annual events for citizens and tourists, like Draghouse Copenhagen Presents and Copenhagen Winter Pride as well as positive attitudes to the LGBTQ+ community meant it scored very highly.

In fourth place is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Amsterdam. The Netherlands was the first country to legalise same sex marriage back in 2001, adding gender recognition legislation in 2014.

Scoring 9.18, Amsterdam boasts a particularly high safety index as well as more than 20 queer bars and clubs across the city, according to Google Maps.

Outside of Europe, New York City and Taipei in Taiwan rounded out the top five. In New York, tourists can enjoy the vibrant queer scene of the city with the NYC Pride March and annual Stonewall Riots Anniversaries, while Taipei has the highest safety score out of all cities in the ranking.

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Which other countries are the most accepting of LGBTQ+ people?

Overall, Emisil found that six out of the top 10 most accepting countries were in Europe.

In sixth place on the list is Barcelona. The popular Spanish city scored 8.83, thanks in part to its high ranking on the Global Trans Index of 2023 as well as being home to more than 30 queer bars and clubs for locals and tourists to explore.

Barcelona Circuit Festival and Barcelona Gay Pride are among the most popular LGBTQ+ events that attract people to this city from all across Europe.

While Reykjavik in Iceland has only five queer nightlife spots, it still comes in at seventh place with a score of 8.80.

The Icelandic capital offers high safety across the city as well as many LGBTQ+ events like Rainbow Reykjavík, Reykjavik Bear and Reykjavik Queer City Walk.

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Toronto in Canada and Tokyo in Japan are in eighth and ninth place respectively.

Toronto is known as a very safe place for queer people and Canada ranks particularly highly in the Global Trans Index, coming second only to Portugal in this list.

Interestingly, while Japan is the only country in this ranking where same-sex marriage is not legally recognised, Tokyo still offers over 40 queer nightlife spaces and Tokyo Rainbow Pride is a huge draw for LGBTQ+ tourists.

In tenth place on Emisil’s list is Paris.

The French capital has the lowest safety index compared to all the other cities in the ranking but manages to compensate for that with its offering of over 30 queer clubs and bars. It’s also famous for its many LGBTQ+ events like Festival des cultures LGBT, Marche des Fiertés LGBT (the Gay Pride parade) and Paris International Lesbian and Feminist Film Festival.

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Although the cities on the list are, on the whole, very safe for LGBTQ+ people, Emisil suggests individuals should double check laws and attitudes of destinations before travelling to them.

“This study shows that Europe is a leading destination for queer people, but we see more and more destinations all over the world that have become queer-friendly,” an Emisil spokesperson tells Euronews Travel. “Nevertheless, It is still important to check laws and tourist tips before travelling to any country to make sure you will have a safe experience.”



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