The 10 Most LGBTQ Friendly Countries in the World

The 10 Most LGBTQ Friendly Countries in the World

What do you think makes a nation truly LGBTQI+ friendly? Progressive laws, policies, and interventions coupled with a liberal public and political outlook that guarantees the rights and freedom of the LGBTQI+ community. And the countries that have successfully managed to do both are today considered as LGBTQ friendly countries.

According to a report 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 are 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 are planning to relocate? We have curated a list of the ten most LGBTQ friendly countries in the world.

Best LGBTQ Friendly Countries

Here are some of the most gay friendly countries that you can live, work and invest in if you belong to the LGBT community.

Portugal

Gay-friendly-Portugal

If you and your partner are in a relationship, marriage, or civil union, Portugal can be one of the most LGBTQI+ friendly countries in the world to live in. The LGBT movement in the country was initiated as early as 1974 and, eventually, the country progressed to decriminalizing homosexuality in the year 1982. Later in 1999, the capital city of Lisbon witnessed the very first pride parade of the country.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • The rules for marriage visas are the same for same sex married couples as for heterosexual couples in the country. You can apply for up to a two-year residence permit 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 and same sex relationships and marriage has been recognized and legalized in the country. Today, children of same sex couples enjoy all the rights and freedoms that all children of heterosexual coupes generally possess
  • Inheritance tax is not levied on same sex couples as well as their children and close relatives
  • Same sex couples in Portugal can adopt children owing to the legalization of adoption for gay marriage in 2016
  • Same sex couples in Portugal have the same access to IVF treatment as heterosexual couples living in the country

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

The beautiful city of Lisbon has some of the most attractive, fun and friendly neighborhoods for LGBT people. From Principe Real, Bairro Alto, Arroios and Cascais, there are an abundance of great places for the gay community in Portugal — it has the best gay scene in the country – gay-friendly bars, cultural centers, and hotels, you name it, the city will  have it. To know 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’re are looking to relocate to Portugal and acquire residency through investment, you can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa – an attractive program for non-EU citizens that gives applicants the also provides the opportunity to become Portuguese citizens after five years, provided that you fulfill all the requirements. To know more about the Portugal Golden Visa, you can check out our article: Portugal Golden Visa: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide 2022.

Finland

Finland-LGBTQ-Safe-Country

Owing to its progressive outlook and policies that protect the LGBTQI+ community against discrimination, this north-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 anti LGBT laws in the country are considered as amongst some  of the most forward-looking legal interventions in Europe.

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 the access to IVF (in vitro fertilization) and artificial insemination
  • By criminalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, educational institutions, and healthcare services, the Government of Finland protects its LGBTQ+ communities

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

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 the 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.

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

Spain

Spain-best-place-for-LGBTQ

Besides 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 legislation and policies for LGBT people.

Since the Roman empire, Spain witnessed same sex sexual activity and same sex marriage, especially between gay men, although few Christian emperors during that period initiated laws against homosexual acts. In modern times, Spain has transformed itself into one of the most LGBTQ friendly country to live in the world.

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. Further, in 2021, an executive order was passed in the country providing access to free IVF treatment procedures to single women and women in same sex relationships across the entire 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 orientation and gender identity 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% of Spanish citizens were of the opinion that gay and bisexual people should have all rights and freedoms as their heterosexual counterparts. Around 86% of Spaniards also were in favor to recognize same sex marriage

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

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. Populated with beautiful architecture, incredible eateries, gay bars, pubs, and friendly locals, all these cities are LGBTQ tourism-friendly.

Norway

LGBTQ-Friendly-Norway

Similar to the other Nordic nations, Norway has been acknowledged as one of the safest countries for LGBTQ to live in. As early as 1981, Norway passed an anti-discrimination law, protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community.

From the year 2009, the country has recognized and legalized same sex marriage and ensured adoption rights for LGBT people. In addition to this, the country has also given lesbian couples access to artificial insemination.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Norway allows individuals from the LGBTQ community to serve openly in the armed forces of the country
  • The country has prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ community based on sexual orientation, gender 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
  • To uphold transgender rights, the country has permitted transgender people to change their gender on the basis of self-determination

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

Norway is said to have 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. Besides Oslo, cities like Hemsedal, Trondheim, and Bergen in the country are referred to as a few of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. So if you are from the LGBTQ community and are planning to relocate to Norway, these cities should definitely be on your bucket list.

Iceland

LGBTQ-rights-in-Iceland

Often cited as one of the most LGBTQ 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 really shown the world what it means to give legal recognition to the LGBTQ locals.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • To ensure the same rights for the LGBT community as heterosexual couples, the Icelandic government decriminalized same sex 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 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 material regarding same sex relationships is being included under 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

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

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

Did you know that according to Lonely Planet, an Australian travel guide and book publisher, Iceland has been included in the “Top 10 Gay Wedding Destinations”. No wonder the country is recognized among the most LGBTQ friendly countries in the world.

Belgium

Belgium-for-LGBTQ-people

Very recently, the ILGA-Europe has listed Belgium as the number 2 country for 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 2022.

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 the year 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 has also allowed individuals from the LGBTQ community to serve openly in the armed forces

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

Brimming with gay bars and clubs, Belgium has got a strong gay community. Society is quite open to LGBT people. As per the 2019 Eurobarometer, 82% 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 the Bruit qui court restaurant, and make sure to get yourself checked in to the Floris Arlequin hotel. Also, cities like Brussels, Antwerp, and Liege in the country are a few places that you shouldn’t miss.

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 country in the world. Since 1996, the country has also banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Further to registered partnerships, the country has legalized same sex marriages
  • 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 that includes information about sexuality, sexual relationships, gender identity, and diversity

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

The gay scene in Denmark is thriving. LGBT people from across the country assemble in Copenhagen every year 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. If you have gay friends visiting Denmark, don’t forget to check out G-Bar, Oscar, and other gay bars in the area.

The Gayest Countries in the World

In terms of protecting LGBTQ rights, there are now several countries in the world that are working continuously to bring about a real transformation. Wondering which are the countries that are doing so? We have curated a list of the most LGBTQ friendly countries in the world for you.

Canada

Canada-the-gayest-country-in-the-world

 

Canada has one of the most progressive and comprehensive LGBTQ rights in North America. 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 2019, the reputed magazine Forbes ranked Canada amongst the five safest countries for LGBTQ to live in. Owing to all these interventions, Canada is often called the most gay friendly country in the world.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Canada protects its LGBTQ community from discrimination that is 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

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

Canada has got multiple bars, venues, and events for the LGBTQ community to explore. If you are planning to visit Canada and want to witness the gay scene in the country, 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 take a tour of the gay village, an LGBTQI+ friendly neighborhood in Montreal, Canada, 

The Netherlands

Culturally-liberal-city-in-the-Netherlands

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. With more than 90% of the Dutch population supporting same sex marriage even now, the Netherlands has emerged as one of the gayest countries in the world in 2022.

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, LGBT people are protected 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.

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

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. Areas like Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Scheveningen have multiple gay friendly clubs, bars, restaurants, and saunas serving exclusively LGBTQ locals.

Malta – One of the most LGBTQ friendly countries in the world

Malta-most-progressive-country-for-LGBT

Malta has been consistent in ranking number one on the ILGA-Europe listing of countries in terms of LGBT rights legislation since 2015. From being the first country in the European Union to prohibit conversion therapy, guaranteeing equal rights and freedom to LGBTQI+ citizens to ensuring a safe environment for the LGBTQ community, Malta has been leading in building a fair, safe, and secure society for LGBTQ travelers and people in general.

Rights for the LGBTQ community

  • Same sex activity, marriage and civil unions have been legalized in Malta
  • Same sex couples have the right to jointly adopt children
  • Apart from married couples and civil partners, single individuals (including single LGBT people) also have the right to adopt children
  • Malta was one of the first countries in the world to prohibit sterilization and invasive surgery on intersex individuals
  • The Maltese government also admits LGBTQ people to openly serve in their military

Key highlights for the LGBTQ community

Be it UNESCO World Heritage Sites, picturesque coastline, architectural marvels, or an 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 know all about the place.

Conclusion

If you belong to the LGBT community and are looking to move, you may consult the above list. Before taking the big step, make sure you know all about the rules and regulations that apply to the LGBT community in the country you choose to relocate.