public opinion 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 country lgbt equality index same sex adoption latin america first latin american country legalize gay marriage equality index 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 america several countries new laws north america lesbian gay bisexual low levels saint kitts intersex people legal rights south america public opinion western europe gender minorities public opinion data past decade gender expression civil unions sexual and gender minorities saint kitts intersex people new laws public opinionWhat 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-welcoming 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-accepting nations in the world.

What are the most LGBT-accepting 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 nations 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.

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

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Finland

new zealand united kingdom south america 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 gay and lesbian couples legal status conversion therapy first nations gay marriage same sex couples legal gender identity sexual orientation same sex relationships gender expression most lgbtq friendly countries

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 parade events. A picturesque landscape coupled with progressive LGBTQI+ rights makes Finland one of the most LGBTQ-accepting countries.

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-accepting 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 parade 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 gayfriendly 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.

Iceland

LGBTQ-rights-in-Iceland

Often cited as one of the most gay-friendly, Iceland takes pride in having liberal LGBTQ 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 in the world.

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 LGBTQ 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-welcoming 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.

Denmark

Denmark-LGBTQ-progressive-country

Being the premier 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.

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 in the world because of its laws and policies for discrimination against 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-welcoming 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.

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-welcoming 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. 

The Netherlands

previous year other parameters previous yearThe Netherlands is more than LGBT-accepting; 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 nations 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.

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 “corrective” 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.

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 LGBT-welcoming 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 LGBTQ-Accepting Countries Globally

What are the most LGBT-welcoming 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 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?

Many LGBT-welcoming 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-Accepting 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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