by guest blogger Ali Bond
Europe has long been home to progressive and open-minded countries, with Denmark being the first place in the world to legally recognize same-sex unions in the late eighties. Now, years later, most countries in Europe embrace the LGBT community. In fact, gay tourism is worth more than 50 billion euros in the European Union. Here, we’ll discuss which cruise destinations around Europe are the most LGBT-friendly, from the islands dotting the Mediterranean to the coast of Spain.
Come to Malta for White, Sandy Beaches
Malta is widely known as one of the most LGBT-friendly destinations in all of Europe. A small island located just off the coast of Sicily, Malta is home to beautiful beaches, lush vegetation, and a whole host of wildlife to spot. The country welcomes tourists of all orientations and provides some of the best legal protections in the world for both LGBT locals and guests alike. Trans teens and adults are legally allowed to designate their own gender, while same-sex couples are legally allowed to marry and adopt children. Malta was also the first country in Europe to ban the cruel practice of conversion therapy.
Visit the Coast of Spain for Non-Stop Festivities
Spain is also a favorite amongst gay tourists thanks to its active LGBT social scene. Many consider Madrid to be the gay capital of Europe, with the city hosting one of the largest gay pride events in the world each year. (If you’re headed to Spain for Brand g’s 2019 Douro cruise, Madrid Pride kicks the trip off.) Barcelona is also popular during the summer thanks to the local Circuit Festival and the Sitges Gay Pride Festival next door. There are also several nearby islands famed both for their beaches and their LGBT nightlife scene, including the world-famous Ibiza.
Stop by The Netherlands for the Sightseeing
The Netherlands has a rich history when it comes to gay rights. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in the country for over 200 years, with equal rights laws for LGBT individuals introduced in the mid-1990s. The Netherlands was also the first country to legalize gay marriage back in 2001. Now, visitors can come to Amsterdam to enjoy the city’s rich history through its artwork and architecture. One of the city’s most famous monuments, the national “Homomonument” pays homage to the LGBT population persecuted during World War II.
While Belgium might be most widely known for its delicious sweets, it’s also made a name for itself as one of the most progressive European countries. Same-sex partnerships were legalized in 1975, while in 2003, the nation followed The Netherlands’ example and legalized same-sex marriage. You can visit coastal cruise destinations to get a taste for the country’s rich culture, but you may have to travel further inland to visit well-known LGBT communities such as Arc-en-Ciel in Brussels and Roze Huis in Antwerp.
Both of these areas are home to plenty of gay bars, clubs, and pride festivals in the summer.
Many European countries are proud to boast progressive laws and equality. There are plenty of LGBT-friendly destinations for cruise-goers to visit, including both islands and coastal regions around the continent. If you’re thinking about going on a cruise around Europe, consider adding these countries to your list of must-see hotspots.
— Ali Bond is a freelance writer who contributes to a number of top travel sites.