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These Are the Safest Destinations for LGBTQ+ Travelers in 2024

by Katie Scott Aiton May 14, 2024

Safety and acceptance are paramount for LGBTQ+ travelers when choosing a vacation destination. There are plenty of rainbow-waving gay-friendly countries and sadly many that are not as welcoming. To help plan safe travel, the Gay Travel Index 2024, by Spartacus, publishes an annual ranked list of countries to help us better understand the legal and social climate around the world.

The index employs a meticulous methodology. The ranking assigns points based on a variety of criteria, with positive points awarded for factors like legal protections for LGBTQ+ people, such as anti-discrimination laws and same-sex marriage rights. Points are also given for factors that create a welcoming environment, like open displays of LGBTQ+ culture and a vibrant LGBTQ+ nightlife scene. Conversely, points are deducted for negative aspects like laws that criminalize homosexuality, restrictions on HIV-positive travelers, and strong religious influence that can be hostile to LGBTQ+ rights. Spartacus’ scoring system creates a comprehensive picture of LGBTQ+ experiences in each location.

This year, the top spot is a historic tie. Canada, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain all share first place with a perfect score of 12 points. These countries are home to comprehensive legal protections, vibrant LGBTQ+ communities, and a general atmosphere of acceptance.

Switzerland and Australia follow closely behind at number six and seven, respectively. Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Norway, and Uruguay round out the top ten.

The index’s findings have a significant impact on countries’ policies and human rights. It highlights countries making strides towards inclusivity, like Estonia, which jumped from 47th to 32nd place due to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

It also identifies areas needing improvement, urging countries with lower scores to enact reforms that create a safer and more welcoming environment for all. Several countries, including Afghanistan, Chechnya (a region within Russia), Iran, and Saudi Arabia, are at the bottom of the index with a score of -21 points. Their low score reflects a multitude of factors that create a dangerous and hostile environment for LGBTQ+ individuals.

The US gets a separate ranking system, allowing travelers to make informed choices within the country due to significant legal and social variations across the 50 states.

This year, New York takes first place with a score of 14. California, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon are joint second with 13. Washington and Washington DC take third with 12 points. The last two ranked states are Montana with -5 and Oklahoma with -6.

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