Ever since India's Supreme Court struck down section 377, many members of the LGBTQAI (Lesbain, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Asexual and Intersex, also called LGBT) community finally felt like they could be themselves in public. However, India still has a long way to go when it comes to queer acceptance. If you and your partner are looking to take a trip where you can fearlessly be yourselves, you've come to the right place.
While you may think that defining any traveller by his or her sexuality is viewing that person through a narrow lens, but owing to the history of violence, discrimination and abuse towards the queer community across the world, making sure a city or country is gay-friendly is definitely important for a queer traveller. Picture this: you and your boo are on honeymoon at an exotic island resort. Would you think twice before holding hands at the beach? Sadly, for some queer people, being starkly careful about their body language in public has become the new normal. However, choosing a gay-friendly travel destination can ease all those fears for members of the community.
In fact, with same-sex marriage being legalised in a number of countries across the globe (here's hoping India's next!), several destinations are tapping into the gay travel market, curating travel packages and campaigns to specifically attract LGBT travellers. This helps them generate more revenue, while queer people have a safe and fun space where they can let their hair down and relax with their loved ones. Win-win, we'd say!
If you've finally decided to go on your first-ever ~gaycation~, firstly--congrats, we're so excited for you! Secondly, here's our list of the most gay-friendly cities in the world which will make fantastic travel spots, so get your credit card out and book that ticket already!
The Netherlands definitely tops the list when it comes to LGBT-friendly countries in the world, and Amsterdam seems to be a hot destination among queer travellers. According to the Sparticus Gay Index, the country has consistently been ranked among the top few countries (it was #3 in 2018), and what makes it such a popular destination is because LGBT rights in the Netherlands have been some of the most progressive in the world. The Dutch population is known to be welcoming and open about peoples' sexuality and queer travellers have reported feeling comfortable indulging in a public display of affection without being bothered.
Don't miss: The Amsterdam Canal Parade, which takes place on the first Saturday of August every year.
In a 2017 article, Lonely Planet ranked Copenhagen #1 on their list of the most gay-friendly places on the planet. The city has a long history of promoting and advocating for LGBT rights, and in fact, Denmark was the first country in the world to recognise registered partnerships for same-sex couples. To make things better, Copenhagen is the first city in the world to host both the WorldPride and EuroGames in 2021 and combining both into one ‘mega-event’. When visiting, make sure you download the free gay travel app, GAY CPG, which will help you with great recommendations for gay bars, shopping spots and LGBT cultural venues around the city.
Don't miss: A visit to one of Europe's oldest gay bars, Centralhjørnet, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary!
Our hearts beam with joy when every time we see pictures of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin P Trudeau, holding up the Pride flag and leading the Pride March every year in Toronto. Canada is a country that has always been unapologetically loud and supportive of LGBT rights. Toronto's cultural hub, The Village, is home to several galleries, theatres and gay-friendly businesses. In fact, with events such as Pride Week Celebrations, Pride March and Dyke March, plus a well-established LGBTQ community centre, gay sub-culture has blossomed and thrived in the city for decades!
Don't miss: Out On The Street, a three-story ‘gay department store’ located in the heart of Toronto’s Church/Wellesley Village which sells clothing, sex toys, pride jewellery and more.
This stunning city situated along the Mediterranian Sea is known for its beaches, nightlife, and the thriving LGBTQ community. The city's culture is warm, open-minded and welcoming, in stark contrast to some of the other hyper-religious cities in Israel. In fact, Tel Aviv not only welcomes queer tourists, but also offers a safe refuge for those from the LGBTQ community of surrounding countries in the region. Fun fact: Approximately 25% of Tel Aviv’s population identifies as gay. Considering that the city's population is around 400,000, this means that around 100,000 people in the city identify themselves as part of the LGBT community.
Don't miss: A stay at Inta Hotel, which is an urban gay oasis and situated in a beautiful 1920’s-era building in Jaffa.
With over 40% of Palm Spring's population identifying as queer, Queer In The World rightfully calls the city 'the biggest gayest destination on Earth'. And who wouldn't want to visit this gay paradise, where the sun shines for around 300 days a year? The city is a perfect destination for first-time queer travellers who just want to be themselves while shopping, dining, or just lounging by the pool. Also, did you mention that the desert hosts one of the most famous (and fabulous) music festivals in the world--Coachella--every year!
Don't miss: GayMart--it's like Walmart, waaaay gayer!
This German city boasts of a colourful and proud gay history that dates back to the golden age of the 1920s. In fact, most LGBT travellers consider Berlin the 'gay Mecca' of the world owing to the Gay Pride parade, a large number of gay bars and parties, gay-friendly hotels, street festivals and large scale Pride events year-round. Besides those, the city also has queer historical and cultural sites, including the Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism (dedicated to the gay men persecuted and killed under the regime) and the Schwules Museum (one of the largest institutions that document LGBT culture throughout the world).
Don't miss: A visit to the 'gay districts' of Schöneberg, Kreuzberg and Prenzlauerberg which host a diverse range of LGBT clubs, bars and restaurants.
Skiathos is the perfect Mediterranian getaway if you're in the mood for an island gaycation! The stunning beaches, the scrumptious food, and the idyllic sunsets on this island can be compared to Santorini's--excpet gayer. Most locals here are warm, welcoming and non-judgemental towards queer travellers. Members from the LGBT community recommend a visit to this gorgeous island especially if you want to take a romantic trip with your partner.
Don't miss: De Facto, the only gay bar in Skiathos Island, which attracts the majority of LGBT crowd.
LGBT culture is synonymous to New York City culture and is as iconic as the city's yellow cabs, high-rises, and Broadway theatre. Gay marriage was legally recognised in the state of New York since 2011, and the Empire State Building lights up in rainbow hues every year for Pride. Greenwich Village, Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen are among the most famous gay villages in NYC, but the city as a whole is queer-friendly. With a plethora of LGBT-specific restaurants, bars, tours and activities, you'll never be short of things to do here as a queer traveller!
Don't miss: Watching a play at Broadway--something that needs to be on EVERY queer bucket list.
Paris is a must-visit for queer travellers looking for a cultural, sophisticated and romantic holiday. While you must not miss the iconic sites like the Lourve, the Eifel Tower and Notre Dame, an important addition to a gay traveller's Paris itinerary is the LGBT district--Marais. Here you’ll find a vast variety of gay bars, each with their own style, unique appeal and happy hours!
Don't miss: A meal at Le Gai Moulin, a gay restaurant founded in 1981.
London is home to Europe's largest gay community--so no wonder the destination is a hot favourite among LGBT travellers. Here you'll find everything your queer fantasies are made of--from high-brow cocktail bars to camp drag shows to dark underground fetish parties. The city's nightlife is always thriving, but if you want to check out the gay scene then head to Soho near the West End for numerous gay bars, shops, restaurants, and clubs.
Don't miss: A visit to Gay's The Word, the only LGBT bookstore in the United Kingdom, which was founded in 1979.
The term 'LGBT-friendly' or 'gay/queer-friendly' is often used to describe places, policies, people or institutions that are open and welcoming to members of the queer community, with an aim to create an environment that is supportive of gay people and their relationships, be respectful of all people, treat all people equally, and be non-judgmental.
While different cities across the globe have topped the various surveys conducted to determine the most queer-friendly city in the world, the cities that usually come out on top are: Amsterdam, Toronto, Copenhagen and Berlin.
Like there's no one 'best' queer city in the world, countries like The Netherlands, Canada and Denmark owing to their progressive LGBT rights.
So what are you waiting for? Book your flights and take that queer trip of your dreams with your boo!
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