Sometimes you can feel as if the world can’t be the easiest place to travel if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, and while this can be true for certain corners of the world, it is surely not true for the whole of this planet. Let me take you on a tour of some of the best places to travel for the LGBTQ+ community, from some of the golden oldies to some more interesting destinations that wouldn’t have normally been on your radar. And who’s going to be your tour guide? Well I’m Henry, one of STA Travel’s newest recruits, fresh from my travels in Hong Kong and far more of Asia!
Taipei – Taiwan
Taiwan can probably claim the spot as the most gay friendly destination in Asia, in fact homosexuality has never been illegal in Taiwan; and excitingly Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage in May 2019, the first Asian country to do so! In regards to Trans rights, the country still has a long way to go (as does our own to be honest), but there has been some good movement in the form of a ‘3rd Gender option’ on ID cards.
As with most nations in the world, the LGBTQ+ friendly areas are far more likely to be found in the metropolitan areas and Taiwan is no exception to this, with Taipei being the most LGBTQ+ friendly part of the country. The annual pride takes place every last Saturday in October, with over 80,000 attending normally, turning Taipei into one big party, reason enough to visit Taipei alone!
Away from being a safe destination or the LGBTQ+ community, what else does Taiwan offer? Well, beaches, national parks, history and, one hell of a food scene. Do I really need say any more to whet the appetite?!
Check out our Travel Guide on Taiwan if this has got you interested: Travel Taiwan
It might not come as a surprise to you that New Zealand has a great gay scene.
First things first, the Transgender community is nothing new in New Zealand, with the Maori having a long history of acceptance and inclusion of whakawāhine (trans women) and tangata ira tāne (trans men) in their society. And New Zealand had the first ever transgender MP in 1999 with the election of Georgina Beyer!
What to do for the gay traveller in New Zealand? Well first of all, gay or straight, New Zealand has some of the best landscapes the world has to offer, I mean we all know by now that the Lord of the Rings was filmed there, so there is of course Hobbiton for you Lord of the Rings nuts.
But if you fancy a true a unique gay experience then get yourself down to Queenstown for a Winter Pride on the slopes in September.
And, of course if you want to hit up the gay night scene then head for Auckland, which is New Zealand’s largest city and has an amazing selection of LGBTQ+ friendly places to stay, and great bars and clubs to enjoy a tipple or two (*ten) to help dance the night away.
Last but not least, you wouldn’t be getting a thorough New Zealand experience without going to a Rugby game, so get yourself to the NZ Falcons RFC team in Auckland, New Zealand’s only gay rugby team.
Guadalajara – Mexico
Now I told you there might be some ones you weren’t expecting and I can probably guess that this is one of them?! Well let me tell you why you should be visiting Guadalajara if you’re embarking on some LGBTQ+ friendly travels.
Despite some high profile conservative politicians in the country, namely the President and the Mayor of the city; Guadalajara is a fairly safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, with many gay-owned and run places to stay and eat. Of course with all major cities is always worth keeping your wits about you when the sun goes down.
While in Guadalajara you must immerse yourself in the Mexican culture, and this means food. Mexico has one of the most intriguing cuisines in the world and Guadalajara is no exception to this, with street food and well priced restaurants a plenty make sure you fill those bellies with some Mexican munch.
And of course if you do manage to find yourself sampling some of Mexico’s liquid based treats, namely Tequila, then there is a great gay night scene around the Avenida Prisciliano Sanchez to dance the night away!
From one of my more ‘out there’ suggestions to one of the most classic destinations for the LGBTQ+ community. Berlin is about as LGBTQ+ friendly as a city can get, in fact it has the oldest gay village in the world, Schöneberg, which dates back to the 1920s although it did temporarily stop for a while due to some historical events…
I suppose when it comes to Berlin, we cannot ignore the incredible Queer nightlife. There is of course the famous Berghain which of course I was refused entry to… I even had the full black clothing and panda eyes and still apparently wasn’t a fit for the club; but don’t let my sour grapes stop you from trying! There is KitKat as well, which might be the place to explore some of your more niche desires, shall I say. There are so many more amazing queer clubs in Berlin, I could write a whole blog on that alone, actually I might just do that one day!
Of course I must mention Berlin Pride which is one of the biggest Prides in all of Europe, probably the world actually! It takes place in the second half of July every year, with it falling on Saturday 27th this year, if you’re looking for a Pride to rival London then Berlin is the one for you.
Away from the incredible LGBTQ+ scene that Berlin has to offer you, there is so much more to explore in this great melting pot of a city. Whether that’s from sampling a fine Turkish kebab to learning about some of the darker times in the city’s history.
Must do in Berlin: Visit the Jewish Museum, even if you’re not a Museum person this is a must, one of the best things I have ever done on my travels.
Austin – USA
Austin, the capitol of Texas?! Yes you heard me right, Austin has a thriving gay scene, so don’t let the idea of being out in Texas put you off this vibrant metropolitan hub.
For the best gay-friendly neighborhoods then get yourself to East Austin, South Congress and Downtown Austin.
This city has so much to offer in terms of history, head down to the ‘Texas State Capitol’ building to find out all about the history of Texas, an incredible area of North America which was part of Mexico at one point! Oh and I cannot forget to mention the fact that Austin is the live music hub of America, why? Because simply put, it has more live music venues per person than anywhere else in the USA. And you can’t ignore the amazing Austin City Limits’ festival, but be quick because it books up super fast.
If you want to escape the rat-race of the city and you’re feeling adventurous, then head to Hippie Hallow Park for the gay beach at Lake Travis, where clothing is not necessarily a requirement!
Something to think about: If you’re heading off to Austin in the November time, then you MUST get yourself to the Austin International Drag Fest!
Montevideo – Uruguay
Frequently rated as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world by Lonely Planet, this South American city should be a must on your LGBTQ+ travel list.
Did you know that the Tango was initially a dance between two men? No I didn’t either! So if you want to get yourself into the South American swing of things, then there are many a queer-friendly dance classes for you.
One of the best things to do in Montevideo is just walk… You’ll be mesmerised by the 12 mile wide city adorned by neoclassical architecture. Throughout your walks you will come across the Plaza Indepencia, a stunning square where there’s a 24-hour honour guard protecting the remains of Uruguayan Independence hero, José Artigas!
If you want to practice your newly found dance moves then Montevideo offers an incredible night life, with bars aplenty and some incredible gay-friendly clubs; just remember that things start a bit later in Uruguay so don’t be getting to the club any time before midnight!
Oh and I can’t forget to mention the amazing wine you can sample in Montevideo, so if you’re feet are hurting then sit back and grab a glass of Malbec.