gay and lesbian people dangerous countries pew research center conducted lesbian gay bisexual transgender other countries many countries safest countries one example first countries saint kitts lgbtq people lgbtq friendly country lgbt equality index same sex adoption latin america first latin american country legalize gay marriage equality index same sex marriages equality index public opinion data legal rights most accepting countries equal age public opinion gay couples accepting countries gender change lgbt issues marriage rights other parameters many businesses general public feels recent years greater levels higher levels north americaWhat do you think makes a nation truly LGBTQI+-friendly? Progressive laws, policies, and interventions coupled with a liberal public and political outlook guarantee the rights and freedom of the LGBTQI+ community. And the countries that have successfully managed to do both are today considered LGBTQ-friendly countries.

According to a report in 2021 by the Williams Institute that surveyed people from across 175 countries, it was observed that the average acceptance level for the LGBTQ community has significantly increased since the 1980s.

Over the past decade, various countries around the globe have been working steadily to implement laws that protect the LGBTQI+ community against discrimination in learning institutions, workplaces, and societies.

Are you someone who belongs to the LGBT community and is planning to relocate? We have curated a list of the ten most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world.

What are the most LGBT-friendly countries to live in?

Portugal

public opinion first latin american country dangerous countries other countries legal gender lesbian people homosexual acts death penalty good place new zealand united kingdom south africa per capita latin american country same sex marriages legal rights most accepting countries public opinion accepting countries

If you and your partner are in a relationship, marriage, or civil union, Portugal can be one of the friendliest countries in the world to live in. The LGBT movement in the country was sparked by the Carnation Revolution in 1974, which produced a number of major social, demographic, and economic changes.

Eventually, the country progressed to decriminalizing homosexuality in the year 1982. In 1999, the capital city of Lisbon witnessed the country’s very first pride parade.

The beautiful city of Lisbon has some of the most attractive, fun, and gay-friendly neighborhoods for LGBT people. From Principe Real and Bairro Alto to Arroios and Cascais, there is an abundance of great places for the gay community in Portugal.

Lisbon has the best gay scene in the country, with gay-friendly bars, cultural centers, and hotels; you name it, and the city has it. To find out more about what makes Portugal one of the safest LGBTQ countries to live in, read our article: Is Portugal a good place to live for LGBT expats?

If you would like to relocate to Portugal and acquire residency, you can apply for the Portugal D7 Visa – an attractive program for non-EU citizens that gives applicants the opportunity to become permanent residents in Portugal.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Gay and lesbian marriage has been legal since 2010
  • The rules for marriage visas are the same for same-sex married couples as for heterosexual couples in the country. You can apply for a residence permit valid for at least two years if your spouse holds a permanent residential address.
  • You are eligible for Portuguese citizenship after three years of marriage to a Portuguese permanent resident. Please note that you have to apply for residency before this procedure.
  • Due to a political environment that favors an equal ecosystem for all its citizens, same-sex adoptions, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage have been recognized and legalized in the country. Today, children of gay and lesbian couples enjoy all the rights and freedoms that all children of heterosexual couples generally possess.
  • Inheritance tax is not levied on same-sex couples as well as their children and close relatives.
  • Gay and lesbian couples in Portugal can adopt owing to the legalization of adoption for gay marriage in 2016.
  • Gay and lesbian couples in Portugal have the same access to IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment as heterosexual couples living in the country. 

Find out more about the Portugal D7 Visa by checking out our article

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Finland

new zealand united kingdom south america south africa death penalty good place per capita pew research center western europe many countries other country transgender people lgbtq people gay travel index gay and lesbian people lesbian gay bisexual transgender more pride festivals

Owing to its progressive outlook and policies that protect the LGBTQI+ community against discrimination, this Northern European nation is definitely a gay-friendly country. The government in Finland recognized homosexuality in 1971, and ten years later, it was removed as a registered illness from government records.

According to the ILGA report, the country’s anti-gay laws are considered some of Europe’s most forward-looking legal interventions. The Gay Happiness Index (GHI) ranks Finland as the 12th happiest country for the gay community. The country has many cities that champion the cause of LGBT people.

Filled with LGBTQ spaces, cafes, restaurants, and more, the capital city of Helsinki has an incredible gay scene. In addition to all these attractions, Helsinki also hosts the country’s most popular pride parade, annually seeing more than 100,000 visitors.

Cities like Oulu, Jyväskylä, Turku, Tampere, Rovaniemi, and Lappeenranta are also open to the LGBTQ community, and each organizes its own pride events. A picturesque landscape coupled with progressive LGBTQI+ rights makes Finland one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • In 2014, the Government of Finland legalized same-sex marriage. This was followed by the legalization of adoption rights for same-sex couples.
  • Since 2006, same-sex couples in Finland have had access to IVF and artificial insemination.
  • By criminalizing discrimination based on the legal status regarding sexual disposition and gender identification in the workplace, educational institutions, and healthcare services, the Government of Finland does its utmost to protect its LGBTQ+ communities.

Norway

united kingdom social acceptance

Like other Nordic nations, Norway has been acknowledged as one of the safest countries for LGBTQ to live in. As early as 1981, Norway began to pass anti-discrimination laws protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community. Since 2009, the country has recognized and legalized same-sex marriage and ensured the right to adopt for LGBTQ people.

In addition to this, the country has also given lesbian couples access to artificial insemination. Norway is said to be among the most trans-friendly countries and has one of the best gay scenes in the world. Oslo, the capital of Norway, has various gay bars and venues and organizes a host of pride events. Oslo Pride is the largest pride festival in the country and runs over nine days during June and July.

Besides Oslo, cities like Hemsedal, Trondheim, and Bergen are referred to as a few of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Other cities like Stavanger and Tromsø also have large LGBT communities. So if you are from the LGBTQ community and are planning to relocate to Norway, these cities should definitely be on your short-list.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • The nation has prohibited discrimination against the LGBTQ community based on sexual orientation, sexual identity, and expression. It has also enacted laws that specifically protect the rights of intersex people.
  • Norway has given adoption rights to married as well as committed same-sex couples.
  • Permission for people to change their gender on the basis of self-determination.

Iceland

LGBTQ-rights-in-Iceland

Often cited as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, Iceland takes pride in having liberal LGBT rights. Whether it is ensuring equal access to adoption and IVF treatment for same-sex couples, legalizing same-sex marriage, or voting in power an openly gay head of a government in 2009, the country has shown the world what it means to give legal and comprehensive recognition to the LGBTQ locals.

Despite having a tiny population, Iceland is culturally liberal and has one of the liveliest gay scenes. The capital city of Reykjavík hosts the biggest Gay pride events in the country and has gay bars, cafes, and other venues welcoming the LGBTQ community.

Did you know that Lonely Planet – an Australian travel guide and book publisher – included Iceland in its rank of the “Top Ten Gay Wedding Destinations?” No wonder the country is placed on lists of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • To ensure the same rights for the LGBT community as heterosexual couples, the Icelandic government decriminalized same-sex sexual activity in 1940.
  • Since 2010, the government in Iceland has allowed same-sex marriage. Setting an example to the world, former Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir married novelist and playwright Jónína Leósdóttir on the same day the law came into effect.
  • The government in Iceland has included sexual orientation in the nation’s anti-discrimination laws.
  • Information about same-sex relationships is included in sex education in the country.
  • The majority of the society in Iceland is in support of same-sex marriage and the protection of LGBT rights.

Belgium

Belgium-for-LGBTQ-people

Very recently, the ILGA-Europe listed Belgium as the second most accepting country of the LGBT community through the protection of LGBT rights in the European Union, right after Malta. With progressive anti-discrimination legislation for the LGBTQ community, Belgium has been hailed as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in 2024.

Brimming with gay bars and clubs, Belgium has a solid gay community. As per a survey in 2021 by Ipsos, 84 percent of Belgian citizens were in support of same-sex marriage. This statistic says a lot about the general sentiment of the Belgian public.

If you are traveling or relocating to Belgium, do visit the Dolores and La Demence bars and Le Bruit Qui Court restaurant, and make sure to get yourself checked in to the Floris Arlequin hotel. Also, cities like Brussels, Antwerp, and Liege are a few places that you shouldn’t miss.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Belgium legalized same-sex sexual activity as early as 1795. And in 2003, it became the second country to permit same-sex marriages.
  • Since 2006, the government in Belgium has given the same adoption rights to same-sex couples as heterosexual couples.
  • Lesbian couples in the country have the right to opt for IVF treatment.
  • Belgium has implemented penalty enhancements for hate crimes committed due to sexual orientation.
  • Belgian citizens have the right to change their legal gender.
  • The Belgian military allows individuals from the LGBTQ community to serve openly in the armed forces.

Denmark

Denmark-LGBTQ-progressive-country

Being the very first country in the world to legalize same-sex unions through registered partnerships back in 1989, Denmark truly has evolved into being a progressive and LGBTQ-friendly nation. Since 1996, the country has also banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The gay scene in Denmark is thriving. LGBT people from across the country assemble in Copenhagen yearly to participate in the Copenhagen Pride Parade and more pride festivals. Former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen also participated in the pride events held in the country. Some of the most well-known bars to check out are G-Bar and Oscar.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Further to registered partnerships, the country legalized same-sex marriage in 2012
  • Same-sex couples are eligible to apply for joint adoption.
  • People from the LGBTQ+ community are allowed to serve openly in the Danish armed forces.
  • The country has hate crime laws in place to protect the LGBTQ community.
  • Denmark has one of the most extensive sex education curricula, which includes information about sexuality, sexual relationships, gender identity, and diversity.

Spain

united kingdom south africa good place western europe transgender people social acceptance lgbtq people low levelsBesides having a rich culture and history, Spain has also been hailed as one of the most LGBT-safe countries in the world because of its anti-discrimination laws and policies for LGBT people.

With the transition toward democracy after the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 came the first political generation of activists who believed in the rights and liberation of people in Spanish colonies as well as marginalized communities in Spain.

LGBTQ activism ramped up in the 1990s with the Spanish Gay Rights Movement, which helped modernize world-famous cities like Barcelona. Spain has since transformed itself into one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries to live in the world.

From literature, cinema, and television, to politics and sports, you will come across LGBTQI+ references in all of them. If you are traveling to Spain, make sure to visit Barcelona, Madrid, and Granada. Crammed with beautiful architecture, incredible eateries, gay clubs, pubs, and friendly locals – these cities are LGBTQ tourism-friendly. 

Gay pride in Spain is unparalleled by any other country in Europe. Madrid has seen the third-highest attendance in history for a pride festival after New York and São Paulo, with 3,500,000 visitors attending in 2017.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • In 2005, under the leadership of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain legalized same-sex marriage and ensured adoption rights. Note that Spain was among the first countries in the world to legalize gay marriage.
  • The government in Spain allows lesbian couples and single women to opt for IVF treatment. Furthermore, in 2021, an executive order was passed in the country, providing access to free IVF treatment procedures for single women and women in same-sex relationships across the nation. 
  • To protect the rights of the LGBT people in the country, Spain has declared that discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual disposition and gender expression is a criminal act.
  • Since 2006, the Spanish government has ensured transgender rights by allowing people from the community to enter their preferred sex in government documents without undergoing surgical transformation.
  • Conversion therapy – a treatment that aims to change the sexual orientation of people, has been banned in the country.
  • According to the Eurobarometer (2019), 91 percent of Spanish citizens were of the opinion that gay and bisexual people should have all rights and freedoms as that of their heterosexual counterparts. Around 86 percent of Spaniards were also in favor of recognizing gay marriage.

Canada

Canada-the-gayest-country-in-the-worldCanada has the most progressive and comprehensive rights for the LGBTQ community among countries in North, Central, and South America. Furthermore, with a score of 383, Canada ranked first on the Asher and Lyric 2023 Danger Index, evaluating the safety of the LGBT community. The country legalized same-sex sexual activity in 1969. 

In 2005, Canada also legalized same-sex marriage. As per the Gay Travel Index (2018), the country has been recognized as the number one gay-friendly country in the world.

In 2021, the reputed data research platform Statista ranked Canada as the safest country for LGBTQ to travel to. Owing to all these interventions, Canada is often called the most gayfriendly country in the world.

As one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries, life in Canada has multiple bars, venues, and events for the LGBTQ community to explore. If you are planning to visit Canada and want to witness the vibe of its gay scene, make sure to be part of exciting events like the Whistler Pride & Ski Festival, Vancouver Pride, and Tremblant Gay Ski Week, amongst others.

You can also tour the LGBTQI+-friendly gay village neighborhood of Montreal, Canada. 

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Canada protects its LGBT community with anti-discrimination law based on sexual orientation. 
  • Adoption by same-sex couples has been legalized in the country.
  • Canada has stated that conversion therapy is a criminal act.
  • Canadian citizens have been permitted to change their gender prior to any gender reassignment surgery.

The Netherlands

Culturally-liberal-city-in-the-NetherlandsThe Netherlands is more than LGBT-friendly; it’s one of the best countries for transgender rights. With a score of 383, the country came in third for the Asher and Lyric 2023 study evaluating the safety of travelers from the LGBTQ community.

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.  With more than 90 percent of the Dutch population supporting same-sex marriage, the Netherlands has emerged as one of the gayest countries in the world in 2024.

Owing to its liberal culture and acceptance of the LGBTQ community, Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is often called one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Other cities like Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, and Scheveningen have multiple gay-friendly clubs, bars, and restaurants.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • The Netherlands has legalized same-sex activity, same-sex marriage, and adoption in the country.
  • Under the Equal Treatment Act, anti-gay laws were introduced, protecting LGBTQ people against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  • Individuals from the transgender community have been given legal permission to change their gender on official documents without undergoing sex reassignment surgery.

Malta

Malta-most-progressive-country-for-LGBTMalta has consistently ranked number one on the ILGA-Europe listing of countries promoting LGBT rights legislation since 2015, and currently ranks fourth as the safest country to travel to for members of the LGBT community, according to the Asher and Lyric 2023 Danger Index. 

Malta was the first country in the European Union to prohibit conversion therapy and guarantee equal rights and freedoms to LGBTQI+ citizens. The country has ensured a safe environment for the LGBTQ community and led the way in building a fair, safe, and secure society for sexual and gender minorities. 

Be it UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Ġgantija Temples, picturesque coastlines, architectural marvels, or the incredible night scene, this small island offers a range of options for LGBTQ people to travel, explore and enjoy.

Valletta, the capital city, is a must if you are looking to witness the gay scene in the country.

Visit our blog: Malta for LGBT: The Ultimate Guide, to learn more about the country’s progressive stance regarding LGBTQ rights.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Homosexual acts, gay marriage and civil unions have been legalized in Malta. 
  • Same-sex couples have the joint right to adopt children.
  • Apart from married couples and civil partners, single individuals also have the right to adopt.
  • Malta was one of the first nations in the world to prohibit sterilization and invasive surgery on intersex individuals.

LGBTQ Global Acceptance Index

According to the most recent report released in 2021 by researchers at the Williams Institute, these are the world’s most LGBTfriendly countries. The report is called LGBTQ Global Acceptance Index (GAI).

Rank

Country

GAI

1

Iceland

9.78

2

Netherlands

9.46

3

Norway

9.38

4

Sweden

9.18

5

Canada

09.02

6

Spain

8.77

7

Denmark

8.69

8

Ireland

8.41

9

Great Britain

8.34

10

New Zealand

8.23

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Most LGBT-Friendly Countries Globally

What are the most LGBT-friendly countries to live in?

The Netherlands is often considered one of the best countries for transgender rights and more than 90 percent of the Dutch population supporting same-sex marriage. Also, Malta has consistently ranked number one on the ILGA-Europe listing of countries promoting LGBT rights legislation.

What criteria are used to determine LGBTQ-friendliness in a country?

Factors include legal recognition of same-sex relationships, anti-discrimination laws, gender identity protections, adoption rights, and overall societal acceptance. 

What are the safest countries in the world for LGBTQ individuals?

The safest countries in the world for LGBTQ are Portugal, Finland, Spain, Norway, Iceland, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, and Malta.

Other countries like Sweden also ranked high on the Asher and Lyric Danger Index, which studies the level of safety for people of the LGBT community.

Israel was ranked as the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East, where same-sex civil unions was legalized in 2020.

Which countries have the most vibrant LGBTQ communities and events?

Cities like San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid are known for their vibrant LGBTQ communities and host some of the world’s largest Pride events. 

Can LGBTQ individuals adopt children in LGBTQ-friendly countries?

Many LGBT-friendly countries allow same-sex couples to adopt children. However, adoption laws and policies may vary, so it’s essential to research specific countries. 

Which South American countries are considered the most LGBTQ-friendly?

Uruguay and Argentina lead the way for the most LGBTQ-friendly South American countries. Uruguay is recognized for its various legalizations and protections, while Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010. 

More About LGBTQ-Friendly Countries

Is Portugal LGBT Friendly? Portugal for LGBTQ+ Expats
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Malta for LGBT: The Ultimate Guide
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Greece LGBT Rights for Expats – All You Need to Know
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