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LGBTQ+ Travel

Travelling the world is something many of us want to do, but for those who are in the LGBTQ+ community it can also require some additional considerations to ensure you stay safe and have the best time!  Here’s our guide to help you navigate the world with some of our favourite cities to stop in as an LGBTQ+ traveller. 

5 Tips before you Go

1. Research laws. Before booking your trip, it’s a good idea to research the laws and social norms of the place you're visiting. Some countries are very welcoming and have progressive laws protecting LGBTQ+ rights, while others may have restrictive or even hostile environments.

2. Know local customs. Understanding the local customs and cultural norms can help you navigate social situations smoothly and allow you to blend in like a local. In some cultures, public displays of affection might be frowned upon regardless of sexual orientation, while in others, there might be more tolerance or acceptance. For example, in India, hand holding between men is seen as normal and friendly, but other PDA is not accepted, and it is possible to be arrested for kissing, regardless of sexual orientation.

3. Find your people. Look up local LGBTQ+ communities to find where all the LGBTQ+ people go and which bars, clubs are around and how you can meet other travellers. Ask Hotel or Hostel staff too, they are often pretty knowledgeable about the local area and which places are best for foreigners but make sure your Hotel is LGBTQ+ friendly first.

4. Make sure your documents are up to date. Ensure that your travel documents are in order, including any visas or permits required for entry. If you have prescription medications, carry them in their original containers with a copy of the prescription. Certain countries have restrictions on medications and treatments. Research any travel advisories related to health and ensure you have adequate travel insurance that covers your needs abroad.

5. Stick to Cities! Some cities may have a LGBTQ+ friendly atmosphere even when the laws and social attitude of the rest of the country do not. This is something to be mindful of and if you are worried, consider travelling to an alternative destination where the laws are less strict. These types of cities can be a great way to visit stricter and more conservative countries while taking a lesser risk, if they are high on your bucket list!

 

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LGBTQ+ Travel In Europe

In general Europe is welcoming and most countries are generally very accepting. Gay marriage is legal in some form in most places and there are many laws in place against discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

The countries seen as the most welcoming for all LGBTQ+ travellers  are Malta, Iceland, Belgium, Spain, Denmark!

In General, Eastern Europe is less progressive with LGBTQ+ rights and should be approached with more caution. The main countries to avoid are Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. 
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Our Top LGBTQ+ Friendly European Cities to Visit: 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Netherlands has long been a pioneer in LGBTQ+ rights, being the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. Amsterdam, with its iconic canals and liberal attitude is a haven for LGBTQ+ travellers . The city hosts one of the most famous Pride events globally - Amsterdam Gay Pride, which features a unique canal parade. The country’s inclusive policies and open-minded culture make it a top destination.

Barcelona, Spain

Spain offers a rich cultural experience combined with a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ individuals. Barcelona and Madrid are particularly famous for their vibrant LGBTQ+ scenes. Madrid Pride is one of the biggest and most vibrant Pride celebrations in Europe. Additionally, Sitges, a coastal town near Barcelona, is known for its gay-friendly beaches and nightlife. Check out our One Thing Spain Guide.

Berlin, Germany

Germany, is known for its open and diverse atmosphere and Berlin is a city where freedom and individuality are celebrated, making it a fantastic destination for LGBTQ+ travellers. The city is home to the Schwules Museum, one of the world's largest institutions dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and culture. Berlin Pride, or Christopher Street Day, is a highlight of the year. Check out our One Thing Germany Guide.

 

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LGBTQ+ Travel In South America

South America as a continent has a range of attitudes when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, but many countries are more forward thinking than many expect. Homosexuality is legal in many countries, as well as giving same sex couples the right to marry. Legal gender recognition is down to the individuals self-identification in 13 states. A third of countries have approved broad protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Our top countries to visit for LGBTQ+ travelers are Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Colombia.

The main place to avoid is Guyana - it has strict laws. You should also be more cautious in Venezuela and Paraguay.

 

Our Top LGBTQ+ Friendly South American Cities to Visit: 

Montevideo, Uruguay

Uruguay is often overshadowed by other South American destinations, but it is a super progressive country being one of the first places in south America to legalize same sex marriage.  Montevideo hosts a thriving gay bar and club scene with the country's largest LGBT+ pride event being hosted there every year.

São Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo is one of the largest and most dynamic cities in South America with so much culture, from museums to theaters, and an amazing culinary scene. São Paulo Pride Parade is one of the largest pride parades in the world, attracting millions of participants each June. If you want to know more about Brazil, check out our Brazil One Thing guide here.

Buenos Ares, Argentina

Argentina is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in South America, having legalized same-sex marriage in 2010. Buenos Aires, with its European charm and vibrant nightlife is a hotspot for LGBTQ+ travellers . The city hosts a massive Pride parade and has many LGBTQ+ friendly establishments. Argentina’s progressive laws and diverse culture make it a must-visit!

 

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LGBTQ+ Travel In North America

There has been significant progress across North America for LGBTQ+ rights. There is still varying degrees of acceptance across the continent but as a whole it is a pretty welcoming and inclusive place. Most countries have anti-discrimination laws, and gay marriage is legal in most countries. Major cities across the continent host vibrant and widely attended Pride parades and events.

Our top countries to visit include Canada, Cuba, Costa Rica, and the USA (however, the attitudes and laws can vary heavily from state to state).

The main places to avoid are across the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia, Saint Vincent.  

Our Top LGBTQ+ Friendly North American Cities to Visit: 

San Francisco, USA

San Francisco is often regarded as the LGBTQ+ capital of the world. The city’s Castro District is a historic and cultural hub for the LGBTQ+ community. San Francisco Pride is one of the oldest and largest Pride events globally, drawing visitors from around the world. The city's progressive values, iconic landmarks, and diverse nightlife make it a top destination. If you want to know more about visiting the USA, check out our complete USA guide here.

Toronto, Canada

Toronto is one of the most diverse and LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the world. The Church and Wellesley neighborhood is the heart of the LGBTQ+ community, hosting numerous bars, clubs, and events. Toronto Pride is one of the largest in North America, celebrating diversity and inclusion. The city’s welcoming nature and cultural vibrancy make it a must-visit. Check out our One Thing Canada Guide.

New York City, USA

New York City is a melting pot of cultures and is known for its significant LGBTQ+ community. Greenwich Village is a historic area, home to the Stonewall Inn, where the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement began. NYC Pride is a massive celebration that attracts millions. The city has so much to offer, from a world class fashion scene, amazing food, and every culture imaginable, it is a must visit. Check out our One Thing USA blog for our top things to do while you're there!

 

 

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LGBTQ+ Travel In Asia

Asia is a vast continent which means there is a lot of variation of LGBTQ+ laws from country to country. Eastern Asia is generally a little more accepting however, in the west of Asia they have the strictest laws with the death penalty still possible for some members of the community. It is very important to research any country you are visiting in Asia.

Our top countries to visit as an LGBTQI+ person in Asia are Nepal, Peru, Taiwan. In recent years, India has made progress in becoming a more accepted society but it does vary in different cities across the country

The main places to avoid are Brunei, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Malaysia. These all have some of the strictest and most severe anti LGBTQ laws and in general are just best to be avoided.

*Beware of Bali: For those travelling to Bali, it is still illegal to be gay in Indonesia. They have been known to be more lenient to travelers,  but it is something to be aware of when you travel there.*

Our Top LGBTQ+ Friendly Asian Cities to Visit: 

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei is one of few countries in Asia that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Every October 50,000 visitors land into Taipei for pride celebrations. Make sure you hit up the red house district for some bar-hopping.  

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok has one of the most developed LGBTQ+  scenes in Asia! The Silom district in Bangkok is Asia’s largest LGBT+ entertainment area, full of lively bars and nightclubs.  However, the laws in Thailand are still lacking, adoption is still banned for same sex couples. While Thailand is not a haven of queer rights, but things are slowly improving.  If you want to know more about visiting Thailand, check out our Thailand guide here and our One Thing Thailand blog!

Tokyo, Japan

 The biggest city in the world has one of the most thriving gay scenes in Asia! The Shinjuku Ni-chōme region is Tokyo is it’s unofficial gay district with over 300 gay bars in a 13 block radius! Japan’s LGBTQ+ policies are a little bit behind, especially for trans individuals, however things are improving. Want to know more about Japan? Check out our One Thing Japan Guide here!
 

 

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LGBTQ+ Travel In Africa

Africa is probably the hardest continent to travel through if you a member of the LGBT Q+ community. Homosexuality is still illegal in many countries with the death penalty being in place in a few. Those who are trans may also find it difficult with legal gender recognition not being possible in almost all countries. 

South Africa is the safest if you wish to travel to Africa as it is the only country with very little restrictions

The main countires to avoid are Nigeria, Malawi, and Sudan as these have some of the strictest LGBTQ+ laws in the world.

Our Top LGBTQ+ Friendly African Cities to Visit: 

Cape Town

Cape Town boasts the most established queer community on the African continent. It’s often known as Africa's ‘gay capital’.  Cape Town hosts a pride festival every Autumn, and the Mother City Queer Project in December. Check out our One Thing South Africa Guide for more to do while you're there!

 

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LGBTQ+ Travel In Oceania

Why not stay local! When looking for a destination that’s welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community, Australia and New Zealand are some of the most welcoming countries around! Us and our closest neighbours have marriage equality, anti discrimination protections and pretty good gender recognition. And the flights aren’t as long as some of these other destinations!  

The places to Avoid are the Solomon Islands and Papau New Guinea.

 

Our Top LGBTQ+ Friendly Cities in Oceania to Visit: 

Sydney, Australia

Mardi Gra in February is one of the most famous LGBTQ+ events globally and Oxford Street with it’s many gay bars and clubs means Sydney is a bit of a haven for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Auckland, New Zealand

A beautiful city known for its culture and friendly locals, the LGBTQ+ scene in Auckland is centered around the Karangahape Road (K' Road) area. Auckland Pride Festival in February is home to many parties, a parade and lots of other events! Check out our One Thing New Zealand Guide for more things to do while you're there.

Melbourne, Australia

Known for its arts and culture scene, Melbourne has a strong LGBTQ+ community, especially in Fitzroy and Collingwood. Midsumma in January and February holds a wide range of events including a parade, and many parties and performances!

 

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protect your trip

We hope this guide will help you make a more informed and safe decisions for your next adventure. We believe every member of the LGBTQ+ community deserves to travel safely so let us know where you're going and get a quote with us for your next trip!  

 

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Grace Mansfield

Grace wrote this article. She has spent the past few years travelling to over 20 countries and is always looking for her next adventure.  Learn more about Grace.