Is Europe LGBTQIA+ friendly?
The short answer is yes, for members of the LGBTQIA+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or questioning) travelling throughout Europe is considered to be fairly safe, especially the countries with a large, diversified population such as France, Spain, and Germany. While the continent itself is seen to be reasonably progressive, the kind of reception LGBTQIA+ people receive during their travels throughout Europe depends on the individual country as some are more traditional and religious than others and have different policies, laws, and levels of social acceptance.
However, there is a large portion of European countries that have passed bills to create safer environments for members of the LGBTQIA+ community with same-sex marriage legalization present in eighteen countries including Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (among others). The majority of European countries also have some legal framework in place to ward off discrimination and inequality for LGBTQIA+ people, indicating a continuously developing yet more accepting society.
Depending on the country you travel to, and the regions within that country, you'll generally find societal attitudes to be positive, welcoming, and friendly, particularly in the larger capital cities such as Vienna, Prague, Berlin, and Paris. This means that public displays of affection between same-sex couples are no longer necessarily frowned upon. However, a certain degree of caution should always be exercised when travelling to more remote parts of each European country, especially if there's a heavy religious presence, as there's a risk some rural areas could be more conservative and not as accepting. If that is the case, it's best to be mindful when moving around.
What are the best European countries to visit if you're a part of the LGBTQIA+ community?
According to a recent study conducted by ILGA-Europe (an LGBTQIA+ advocacy group), these are the 10 most LGBTQIA+ friendly countries in Europe:
Please note, this is by no means an exhaustive list and there are plenty of other countries where travel for members of the LGBTQIA+ community is perfectly safe.
What are some of the European countries I should avoid as an LGBTQIA+ traveler?
It's important to remember that while most European countries are working towards a safe and inclusive environment for every traveler, there are some countries that still hold traditional, religious beliefs where same-sex relationships may be recognized but not legalized or where public displays of affection are met with negativity and hostility at times. A degree of caution should be undertaken if you're travelling to the below European countries if you're a member of the LGBTQIA+ community:
Queer culture in Europe
There are plenty of cities throughout Europe that embrace and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and you only have to look at Europe's biggest pride festivals to know that. From Paris's Marche des Fiertés parade during Pride month to Madrid with its free concerts and entertaining activities, there's always a party to go to and a vibrant crowd to have fun with during the month of June (Pride month).
But June isn't the only time LGBTQIA+ travelers can let their hair down in Europe as the continent is filled with cosmopolitan cities and paradise-like islands that welcome absolutely everyone. Looking for a gay bar in Germany? There are several in Berlin. Do you want to jump on a Queer Cruise while you're in England? Do it along the River Thames in London. Maybe you want to dance the night away at an open-air festival in Sweden? Stockholm is the city for you. We could go on and on but we've made our point - there's no shortage of gay-friendly venues throughout Europe's most popular cities.