June marks Pride Month, a time dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ communities worldwide. And while many places are safe for LGBTQ travelers, that is not true universally. SafetravelRX, an app specifically designed to keep you safe, has the top recommendations from the recently published LGBTQ+ Danger Index for 2022. The research provides essential safety insight for queer travelers considering international adventures. And while it's crucial to do your homework, a report alone will not tell you everything you need to know about a destination. It’s imperative to understand and respect cultural norms while visiting other countries, and knowledge of local customs will go a long way towards ensuring an exceptional experience. So, let the countdown begin (in descending order)!
Portugal is known for wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws and is one of the few countries in the world to actually contain a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in its Constitution. They also were an early adopter of legalizing same-sex marriage. Despite Portugal's predominantly Catholic roots, the country has become increasingly progressive. However, that is not to say that there is no discrimination, but Portugal is safe and accepting overall. Both Lisbon and Porto have flourishing LBGQT communities, and even the region of the Algarve is a haven for queer tourists and ex-pats. As a travel destination, Portugal is rich in variety with sophisticated cities, beautiful beaches, outstanding cuisine, great weather, and their famous Port wine. And it’s still relatively inexpensive compared to other European countries.
So, this following country might be a surprise unless you've already been there, but Malta is fourth on the list. When you think about the history and location of this country, it makes sense that it would be an open-minded society considering all of the influences they have had. This tiny nation located south of Sicily has been at the crossroads of occupiers for centuries, including the Romans, Arabs, Spanish, French, and British, who have left their mark on language, architecture, cuisine, and customs. Despite its small size, Malta has taken more significant strides toward expanding LGBTQ rights, and their transgender and intersex rights are among the highest standard in the world. Malta prides itself on being a place where gender identity is a non-issue. But that's not all the country has to offer. The capital, Valetta, is sometimes called an "open-air museum" and was chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2018 with beautiful Baroque buildings. Valletta is also the sunniest city in Europe. Still, you can also leave the hustle and bustle of it behind and be in the idyllic countryside within minutes to take advantage of wine tasting or a hike in the mountains. You can also do some island hopping between the three major islands.
With a country known to be as liberal as The Netherlands, it isn't a surprise that they are welcoming to the LBGQT community. Same-sex sexual activity was legalized as early as 1811 after France invaded the country and installed the Napoleonic Code. By comparison, the U.S. did not legalize same-sex activity nationally until 2003. In addition to a queer-friendly atmosphere, The Netherlands has incredible architecture, international cuisine, and lovely canals. There are also plenty of events and activities that cater to LGBTQ visitors. You will find these guides to Amsterdam and other cities such as Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague extremely helpful.
Next on the list? Sweden! Considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe regarding LGBTQ rights, they have been at the forefront of legislation allowing same-sex couples to register for partnership benefits in 1995. And 98% of Swedes believed gay and bisexual people should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual people, the highest in the European Union. The pride parades in Stockholm, Malmö, and Gothenburg are known for their diversity, and the approachable Swedes make it easy to get in touch with the local LGBTQ+ community. The natural scenery is extraordinary, and the cities are vibrant and welcoming. In addition, it is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of violent crime, although you should be aware of clever scams that are pretty common everywhere.
And the winner is (drumroll please) Canada! Yes, that's right, our neighbors to the north are known for being genuinely friendly and welcoming to all visitors, and the country has long been a destination of choice for queer travelers as well. What makes Canada such an attractive travel choice? LGBTQ rights in Canada are some of the most extensive globally, and they were the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. In addition, religious influence on legislation concerning LGBT+ rights in Canada is limited, and the local population is generally positive about queer rights. The country’s major cities have large LGBTQ communities, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa, and crime is extremely low. And did we mention that the natural beauty is phenomenal?
And there you have it! Five incredible destinations that are safe and waiting for your visit. But while this list gives you five great options, it is by no means exhaustive. There are literally hundreds of other places within the U.S. and worldwide that are welcoming to the LBGQT community. So, what are you waiting for? Get out and explore with pride!