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Gay and lesbian travel

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Gay and lesbian travel

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    This article is a travel topic

Gay and lesbian people often have special interests when traveling. This page lists three things: events and activities of special interest to, or targeted towards, homosexual travelers; destinations where open homosexuality is acceptable; and destinations where it might be dangerous to travel, or at least to publicly display affection for a same-sex partner.

Queer events and activities

  • The Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras held annually (February/March) in Sydney.
  • The GLBT Pride Parade in São Paulo in early June is considered the world's largest gay event. The 2007 parade gathered 3 million people.
  • The San Francisco Celebration and Parade held annually (June) in San Francisco.
  • The White Party [1] held annually (November) in Miami.
  • Paris Gay Pride [2] June 28, 2008 : held every summer in the French capital with over 700,000 participants in 2007.
  • Swedish Gay Camp [3] July 20-27, 2008 : A camp for gay and bisexual men held every summer in Sweden, open to international participants. Swedish and English speaking.

GLBT laws

Through out most of the world GLBT visitors are welcome, but there are some African, Caribbean and Middle Eastern countries where it wouldn't be the best idea to express who you are completely. The map on the right shows the legal status of homosexuality in countries around the world. Dark red countries are where people found to be GLBT are executed. Watch your back when you are traveling in a non-blue country, but even in the United States there are also gay-bashings, but they are not too often.

Queer friendly destinations

If you're not seeking out specifically queer events and activities, but want a hassle-free holiday, consider these destinations:

North America


In the western hemisphere, no country is more tolerant and gay friendly than Canada, both in legislation and attitude. That being said, not everyone has followed suit with the movement, particularly in rural areas.

  • Montréal - North American city with a European flavour. The Quartier Gay isn't an exclusively gay place anymore, it is a place where everybody goes out to have a good time.
  • Toronto - Big 'village' in the big city
  • Vancouver - third largest gay community and on the west coast


A traditionally Catholic country, Mexico is getting more gay-friendly all the time. Medium-sized and big cities as well as coastal resorts all have gay bars and sometimes gay discos. Watch out, the extrovert Mexicans are never shy of flirting.

  • Mexico City - This huge city offers a vast array of gay bars and clubs, from stylish and slick to unassuming and friendly, both in the elegant Zona Rosa and elsewhere.
  • Acapulco - Apart from the natural beauty of the Quebrada divers, this party place has hectic night clubs, strip joints and friendly bars. Most of your fellow travellers are Mexican.

United States

By and large the USA is tolerant-to-accepting of LGBT travellers, especially in the larger cities, the Northeast, and the West Coast. Major destinations include:

  • San Francisco - the "gay mecca" of the USA
  • New York City - birthplace of the American gay rights movement
  • Chicago - has an annual Pride Parade in the Boystown neighborhood, which includes some of the city's best clubs and bars
  • West Hollywood - in the heart of the Los Angeles metropolitan area
  • Fire Island - a barrier island off the coast of Long Island, New York
  • Palm Springs - a small desert mecca two hours east of Los Angeles - it has amongst the highest proportion of Gays and Lesbians in its population of any American city - also home to the annual White Party at Eastertime
  • Provincetown - at the tip of Cape Cod, "P-Town" has long been famous as a queer getaway; and now that gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, it's a popular place to tie the knot as well
  • Key West - the southernmost point of the US is also a famously liberal vacation spot with many options for LGBT travellers
  • Miami Beach - a glitzy and very queer-friendly beach resort that is also home to the annual White Party
  • Ogunquit, Maine
  • Rehoboth Beach - a small beach town on the Delaware coast with a large and active LGBT community
  • Galveston - a small island city just out side of Houston Texas that has some "Gay Only" hotels and some beaches that are generally queer only
  • Asheville - a city in western North Carolina with significant feminist and lesbian/gay communities.

South America


  • Buenos Aires - The Argentine capital is quickly surpassing Rio as the most popular gay travel destination in South America. The city's first five-star gay hotel is currently under construction, and the city passed same-sex civil union legislation in 2002.


  • Montevideo - The Uruguayan capital had a sexual diversity monument installed in 2005.


Czech Republic



  • Paris - Over 300 different gay and lesbian venues, concentrated around Le Marais, in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements.
  • Provence - Southern France brings gay travellers a new experience in traveling with the French gay and lesbian community in Provence sharing their love and knowledge of the country.



  • Budapest - Thermal bath and spa capital of Central Europe with a lively gay scene.


  • Bologna - Widely recognised as the 'gay capital' of Italy.
  • Milan

Netherlands (Holland)

  • Amsterdam is also known as the gay capital of Europe. Many clubs have special gay nights every week. A certain area ("Reguliersdwarsstraat") is full of cafés where gay people are more common than heterosexuals. Every summer there is the Gay Pride Parade, taking place in the canals in the city center. Amsterdam is getting more and more dangerous because of attacks on gays by muslim gangs.





  • Istanbul - has a considerable gay life and tens of gay bars and clubs mainly around Taksim and Beyoglu districts. In the summer of 2007, local GLBT association Lambda Istanbul organized a big gay & lesbian parade (Pride Istanbul) out in the streets with the legal permission of local authorities, for the first time in a Muslim country.

United Kingdom



  • Sydney - host of the country's largest tourist event, the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which attracts millions of queer-friendly visitors to the city every year
  • Melbourne - a cultural hub of fantastic museums, art exhibits, and restaurants
  • Cairns - one of the best spots to see the Great Barrier Reef from, using one of the many gay-friendly local operators

New Zealand

  • Auckland - the city comes alive around 1:00am, full of incredible restaurants, pubs with live music, and great dancing places in 'K Road'. Use Auckland as your base to discover the local Maori culture, and organise further travel into the world-famous South Island of New Zealand, with its breathtaking scenery.



  • Manila - Known as the gay capital of Asia. One in 18 residents over the age of 15 is gay/lesbian.


  • Bangkok - Known for its gay tolerance, and its gay festivals.

Dangerous destinations


The following countries have criminal laws against sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex. Bold Italic Links denote countries that have a DEATH PENALTY for homosexuals.


Homosexuality illegal: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia.

Male only: Kenya, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania (except Zanzibar, where lesbianism is ALSO punishable), Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Homosexuality illegal: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka.

Male only: Maldives, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

Homosexuality illegal for Muslims only, one province: Indonesia (Province: Aceh)

Central and South America

Homosexuality: Nicaragua (but will no longer be a criminal offence from March 2008), Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago.

Male homosexuality ("buggery") illegal: Guyana, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia,

Anal sex illegal, regardless of gender: Dominica


Chechnya (more info needed)

Middle East

Homosexuality illegal: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen.

Male only: Bahrain, Lebanon, Palestine, United Arab Emirates.


Homosexuality illegal: Samoa, Solomon Islands

Male only: Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu


The following destinations pose some problems to queer travellers (see also the "Stay safe" section of region and cities articles):

  • Cuba - homosexuality is legal but repressed.
  • Poland - following an escalation in gay bashings and public demonstrations of homophobia and intolerance by both the population and the government, Poland is increasingly considered an unfriendly destination for gays and lesbians.
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