10 most gay-friendly countries

  • Gay couple
Published on 2017-09-19 at 14:00 by Veedushi
Moving abroad can be a complicated decision to take for LGBT expats. Some countries – especially those in Europe and North America – may be more welcoming and tolerant than others regarding LGBT rights. To help you choose your next destination, Expat.com gives you an insight into some of the world's most gay-friendly countries.


The Netherlands was the first country ever to legalise same-sex marriages in April 2000. Since then, the Netherlands has adopted a rather progressive mindset in this regard, becoming one of the world's least homophobic countries. Amsterdam, the Dutch capital city, is a very popular destination for gay expats, so you won't have much to worry about if you're planning to move there. It's also worth noting that Dutch schools have introduced sexuality and sexual orientation courses since 2012 to encourage tolerance towards the LGBT community.

United Kingdom

LGBT rights have been a great concern for the United Kingdom for many years, even though same-sex marriage was legalised in April 2013 only (the legislation came into force one year later). A couple of official surveys carried out over the past decade show that the British have been very much in favour of eliminating discrimination against the LGBT community. In July 2017, the whole world witnessed the first Muslim gay marriage in the UK. Also, it is illegal to refuse employment, accommodation, and goods or services to LGBT people.

gay couple with child


Belgium has always been a liberal country, especially when it comes to LGBT rights. Belgium was the second country in the world to legalise same-sex marriages in 2003 – which makes it one of the world's most gay-friendly destinations. Belgians are known to be open-minded and tolerant, and any form of discrimination against the LGBT community is illegal. Brussels, for its part, hosts a vibrant gay neighbourhood with a lot of gay-friendly bars and restaurants. On moving to Brussels, you're also likely to enjoy many weekly and monthly events.


It is mainly European countries that stand out for their acceptance of the LGBT community and recognition of its rights, and Sweden couldn't have followed a conservative path. Same-sex civil and religious marriage in Sweden was legalised in 2009. Since then, the country made significant progress with the Swedish government having introduced a series of measures to protect gender rights. Sweden is looked upon as a role model when it comes to gender rights. So if you're planning to move to Sweden, you don't have to worry about being judged for your lifestyle. Did you know that the Stockholm Pride attracts over 400,000 people including 45,000 participants every year? Perhaps there's no better proof that Sweden is a gay-friendly country.


France has a vibrant nightlife along with an active and dynamic LGBT community – the first French gay-friendly bar opened in 1978 in the Marais district in Paris. You will perhaps recall that same-sex marriage was legalised in 2013 while transsexuality was removed from the mental illnesses list in 2010. Whether you're moving to Lyon, Montpellier, Nice or Toulouse, gay expats won't feel excluded.

gay pride


One of the world's most popular expat destinations, Canada is the ideal place for gay expats. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom stands for equal rights for the LGBT community. Since same-sex marriage in Canada was legalised in 2005, Quebec moved one step ahead in this regard. Montreal, like Toronto, hosts a very active gay neighbourhood that attracts visitors in large numbers every year thanks to LGBT festivals and other major events. Over the past years, discrimination based on sexual orientation became almost insignificant – showing the evolution of mentalities. Besides, Canadians are known for being welcoming, tolerant, and open-minded people with whom it won't be hard to mingle.


One of the top countries for quality of life, Denmark can also boast about having a warm and tolerant population, which welcomes the LGBT community. Even though it was the first country in the world to recognise the union of same-sex couples in 1989, same-sex marriage in Denmark only became legal in 2012. Denmark attracts gay expats not only for its pleasant atmosphere but also for its vibrant nightlife and a range of gay activities and events held all year round. Also, most Danish cafes, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs are gay-friendly. If you're moving to Denmark, you should definitely not miss the famous Copenhagen Pride and MIX Copenhagen, a gay and lesbian movie festival.


Being the world's happiest country, Norway is also the place for a happy LGBT community. Norway was the sixth country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2009. Like most Nordic countries, Norway also has a liberal and tolerant population, which makes it easy for expatriates to adapt regardless of their origin and sexual orientation. You're likely to find gay-friendly bars, cafes and restaurants in all major Norwegian cities, not to mention special gay events. Fusion, for instance, is a yearly gay and lesbian film festival held in Oslo. If you like skiing, you better head to Hemdesal for the Skeive Ski festival.

LGBT rights around the world


Iceland is an appealing expat destination to the LGBT community. Same-sex marriage in Iceland was legalised in 2010, but there's more to it. Iceland doesn't have an LGBT culture but there's a real sense of belonging as people from all walks of life coexist in everyday life and in popular events. Everyone enjoys the same rights and is happy about it. If you're moving to Iceland, the Reykjavik Gay Pride held in August, the Bears on Ice in September, and the Rainbow Reykjavik that goes from January 31 to February 3 are not to be missed!

New Zealand

One of the most popular expat destinations, New Zealand is another welcoming country for LGBT expats. Homophobia stills exists in some places, yet it should not be hard for you to adapt thanks to its liberal and tolerant society. While same-sex marriage in New Zealand was legalised in 2013, discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited since 1993. On moving to New Zealand, you're likely to discover active LGBT communities and take part in annual events that are held in major cities such as Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

Article translated from Les pays les plus gay-friendly