Best Cities for Gay Expats

There are quite a few major cities that are gay-friendly. Whether it’s overtly through their Gay Parades, or just the tolerance and understanding of their citizens, members of the LGBT community making an international move can find themselves welcome in many destinations. For those of you thinking of moving to Europe we have to put together a list of the best destinations for gay expats moving abroad either for temporary relocation or to permanently set up home.

1. Tel Aviv, Israel

This dynamic, diverse and vibrant city is affectionately known as “The City that Never Sleeps. In a world-wide survey by and American Airlines, 43 percent of voters chose Tel Aviv. New York came a distant second with 14 per cent.

As the gay capital of the Middle East, Tel Aviv is exotic and welcoming, with an easy-going Mediterranean lifestyle. The city has upped its game in recent years with many different activities, including its Tel Aviv Gay Vibe campaign, organized with the municipality’s Ministry of Tourism, and the Gay Parade, which takes place every June.

For information about moving to Israel, click here.

2. Berlin, Germany

Berlin probably has more gay attractions than anywhere else in the world, including a gay museum and a gay memorial. All of Germany is pretty accepting of same-sex couples, but Berlin’s incredibly welcoming attitude towards homosexuality and its thriving gay scene actually date all the way back to the 1920s. Berlin is famous for its legendary nightlife, culture and liberalism and has elected an openly gay mayor. It also hosts the largest gay pride parade and festival in Germany, with the Christopher Street Day as one of the largest gay events in Europe, held at the end of June every year.

For information about moving to Germany, click here.

3. Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark was one of the first countries in the world to legalize same-sex unions back in 1989. It is one of the world’s most liberal nations, and its open minded approach combined with gorgeous landscapes, stylish architecture and a high quality of life have made it a very desirable expat destination. The main cities such as Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense all have energetic gay scenes, and there are many websites and magazines to provide information and support for the gay community.

For information about moving to Denmark, click here.

4. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is now recognized as one of the world’s top gay destinations. In addition to having a vibrant cosmopolitan life, the city is an attractive mix of gay and straight. It boasts some of Europe’s best nightlife and restaurants. In fact, the gay community and gay travelers are credited with having largely contributed to Barcelona becoming such a trendy city, even in winter when the beaches – normally the top attractions for visitors– are no longer so attractive.

For information about moving to Spain, click here.

5. Toronto, Canada

Canada is very liberally-minded, with larger cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax and Montreal all offering a wide selection of gay bars and events. In addition to its welcoming attitude towards same-sex couples, it also offers many employment and recreational opportunities for expats from all over the world. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005. Perhaps one of the more appealing aspects of Toronto for members of the LGBT community is that public displays of affection between homosexuals and open displays of sexuality are common and accepted throughout the city.

For information about moving to Canada, click here.

6. Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand’s attitude towards same-sex couples is probably the most liberal out of any country in Asia. This is especially true in the larger urban areas of Bangkok, Chaing Mai and the tourist islands. Same-sex marriage is not legal, but there are many gay bars in urban areas and moderate displays of affection are not deemed offensive on the premises. However, outlandish displays of affection, irrespective of sexual orientation, are frowned on in public. On top of its vibrant gay scene, Thailand also offers beautiful beaches, magnificent temples and the tastiest food for the smallest budgets.

7. London, UK

London’s Gay Pride event is one of the world’s largest, with thousands of gay visitors contributing to the excitement. This is the home of Europe’s largest gay and lesbian community, which enjoys a varied nightlife of more than just bars and clubs; it is also the theater capital of the world and the center of gay art, so there is always something cultural going on in most parts of the city.

London is very popular with gay people from around the world and gay couples are welcomed with a surfeit of living options and recreational opportunities. SoHo is one of the most popular hangouts for members of the LGBT community. Now that same-sex couples can adopt children, gay families are seen throughout the city.

For information about moving the the UK, click here.

8. Paris, France

Paris was the first city to elect an openly gay mayor. It was the gay community that turned Le Marais into the city’s center of LGBT culture, beginning in the 1980s. Today, close to half of the LGBT businesses in Paris are in Le Marais. Liberally-minded Paris is an international epicenter for fashion, art and culture.

For information about moving to France, click here.

9. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Homosexuality was actually decriminalized back in the early 1800s, and in 2002 the Netherlands became one of the first countries to allow same-sex marriage. If you’re thinking of moving to the Netherlands, you will find Amsterdam very accepting of gay culture. Gay couples can be seen walking hand-in-hand along the canals. On the waterfront, you’ll find the first gay monument in the world, the “Homomonument”, inaugurated in 1987, as a reminder of persecutions against homosexuals. Amsterdam hosts the world’s only gay parade on water during the Amsterdam Pride every August.

For information about moving to Netherlands, click here.

10. Madrid, Spain

In addition to being Europe’s nightlife capital, Madrid is also very gay-oriented. Gay marriage is legal, and gay life has influenced the city’s trendiest shops, restaurants, and hotels. As a 24-hour city, there’s something for every taste and lifestyle. There are free gay publications around Chueca, a popular neighborhood for the homosexual community, with loads of information about gay life in the city. Plaza Chueca is where everyone meets. From there the next stop can be a lively café, or a sauna, or a very late dinner. The bars and clubs you’ll choose to go to after that will depend on your taste and mood, and a friendly local will point you in the right direction.

Written by Einat Mazafi