Int'l Gay Travel Index

Spartacus Ranks Gay-Friendly Destinations: Sweden’s On Top (USA Not So Much)

spartacus-travelguidesGo-to gay-travel guide  Spartacus has released its latest International Gay Travel Index and the ratings include some surprising results.

The index includes all 138 destinations Spartacus covers, but rather than judge them based on their gay nightlife, the publishers rated them according to the laws and customs of each country as the relate to marriage equality, HIV travel restrictions, hate-crime murders, laws against homosexuality and other criteria. Each nation was assigned a positive or negative number value for each category.

Topping the list was Sweden, which scored points for having anti-discrimination laws, recognition of gay unions, an equal age of consent, travel marketing aimed at gays and no institutional persecution of the LGBT community.

Other top-10 rated nations include Belgium, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark,  Iceland, Norway and Spain.

The United States landed in the middle of the pack at #38—thanks to anti-gay laws, a lack of marriage equality, and some unfriendly corners of the Land of the Free—and tied with Aruba, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Curacao, Hungary, Italy, Mexico and Thailand.

Here’s a look at the bottom of the pack—countries with hostile locals, anti-gay laws, hostile locals and, in the case of Iran and the United Arab Emirates, the death penalty for homosexuality.

International Gay Travel Index
International Gay Travel Index


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  • Peternsancarlos

    I am not so sure I would want to travel to the top travel destination according to Spartacus in winter.Except Spain is a good place year round but the rising crime rates and the massive unemployed is making it less desirable .The problem with Spartacus is published in Europe and is very Euro-centric .I think the opportunity for travel and living are stronger in the US for LGBT brethren then anywhere else.

  • erics

    Here’s the full list:

    I don’t get these scores at all. In Mexico, for one, same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City and must be recognized throughout the country, but its given a lower score in that category than the U.S.; likewise, Mexico’s constitution has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 2001, while the U.S. doesn’t even have a federal law on the issue, much less a constitutional right, but both countries received the same score in that category.

    Does Spartacus explain these discrepancies? It all seems very arbitrary.

  • kennetho9322

    I travel extensively and find these scores quite fair. Perhaps you guys should get out more.

  • John Doe

    I agree about Mexico to a small extent. They’ve come a bit further than the USA as a nation when it comes to the law. But, I don’t think that they’d rank highly AT ALL when it comes to the other criteria that are mentioned above.


    Did this even get mentioned on Queerty when it made news a few weeks ago? (see below)

    “The Mexican Supreme Court on Monday formally released its ruling that found a Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

    The 56-page decision cites two U.S. Supreme Court cases that specifically addressed race-based discrimination and segregation: Loving v. Virginia that found state bans on interracial marriages unconstitutional and Brown v. Board of Education that struck down laws that allowed separate public schools for black and white students.”

    “For there to be same-sex marriage throughout the country, if there is not a reform of the civil laws of each state, we will need five rulings in each one of the states that comprise the federation [of Mexico,]” Méndez noted.

  • John Doe


    “The problem with Spartacus is published in Europe and is very Euro-centric.”

    How is this list Euro-centric? The list basically shows that many European countries are MORE ADVANCED when it comes to LGBT issues. And, it also shows that many Middle Eastern countries are far behind. This very much matches with the reality of things here on this earth. Although someone could make an argument that some countries may need to move up/down on the list slightly, the overall list seems to adequately reflect the state of LGBT laws and acceptance in each of the countries mentioned. Just because Europe is farther along that Asia, Central America, Africa and the Middle East does not mean that the results are flawed by bias. I see no bias here.

    I’m always surprised when I see lists like this that the Bahamas are as gay unfriendly as they are. I understand it… but it still is mentally hard to accept. But, I do hear that things might be changing.

    The list IS rather outdated by the way. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington State in NOVEMBER of last year and this list says that this issue is still undecided. No it isn’t. The voters legalized it over 3 months ago.

  • John Doe

    They’re also wrong on Washington State adoption laws re: same-sex couples. In Washington State same-sex couples CAN adopt.

  • John Doe

    By the way, why is Queerty publishing this TODAY when their list was last updated in June 2012 and the story was actually published A YEAR AGO, March 22, 2012.

    No wonder this list is inaccurate.

    A 1 year old news story, Queerty?

    “Last updated: 25. June 2012”

  • 2eo

    It’s good that there are some European leaning sites and studies and programs. If you listened to the internet you wouldn’t think anywhere outside of California and New York has ever existed for the LGBT community.

  • Ottoman

    The US has 31 times more people than Sweden and covers a vast amount of land. If Sweden were just a state sharing a larger country with places like Russia and Hungary, then maybe you could compare it to the US.

  • Daniel-Reader

    Spartacus left out the court systems, which makes their rankings a joke. For instance, France should not be high because its Constitutional Court is completely corrupt and profoundly anti-gay. Mexico should definitely be ranked higher.

  • andy_d

    here’s the link to the full list that SHOULD have been included in the story. It also explains the scoring.

    I found it right away with a search engine. . . (HINT TO QUEERTY)

  • viveutvivas

    The U.S. has become a more unfriendly destination for gay travelers in recent years due in large part to rising inequality. The traditional gay vacation destinations (NYC, San Francisco, P-town, etc.) have become too expensive and gentrified for most young gay people to visit (never mind live). As a result, gay life in these destinations have also become very boring compared to what it was.

  • Gonzalo


    Concerning the purported eurocentricity of Spartacus, I think the problem in the US is that most publications that we are used to are pretty much North-American-centric. In the end we all live in our little tribe, but the world is vast and horizons virtually limitless. Lets not be so provincial and create more borders than already exist.

    Concerning the purported crisis in Spain (one of the top homofriendly states in the Spartacus ranking), the crime rate has not increased as mentioned in the first comment; in fact it is much lower and cities are way more safe (both for gays and for the general population) and quite a bit more queer-receptive than in your average American town. I recommend it!

  • moo

    @Ottoman: Maybe you could explain how your observation has any baring on the results of the report. Are you suggesting that larger populations result in more homophobic laws?

  • Peternsancarlos

    @Gonzalo . Since I grew up in Southern Europe with a German mother and Greek father you would think I would be more Eurocentric .I have done business in rural France , Northern Spain,Italy since I am a wine importer.I speak French ,German , Arabic and functional Spanish besides English.My experiences has been that outside of major city’s in Northern Europe it get’s very homophobic but Europeans don’t count rural location’s.I have been to bar’s in Southern France where they have speakeasy type peep hole so they won’t be harassed .Bar’s in Spain’s Sitge’s or Barcelona are targeted by North African gang’s .Rural Sweden can be as bad as back wood’s as Kentucky where we don’t have LGBT center’s.I have used Spartacus guides and have found them incredibly inaccurate in the past.A vintner I know who live’s in Galicia Spain is in an arranged marriage with a Lesbian because he feel’s his village pressure would hurt his business.I don’t see the difference between being married in DC,NY,Boston,Seattle or Iowa and being married in Stockholm.My husband and I are celebrating our 30th year together and were first married in San Francisco in 2004.We have found more acceptance in our business life with out government mandates in the US over Europe.You can legislate equality but can you get the populace to accept us and that’s the difference between Europe and the US.



    I think you hit the nail on the heard, Peternsancarlos. I think a lot of it has to do with location. Take the United States for example: a foreigner (gay or straight) visiting San Francisco, NYC, Seattle, Boston, etc. would have a very different opinion of the United States than a foreigner (gay or straight) visiting Little Rock, Arkansas. Although laws in regards to the legal status of same-sex couples may vary country-by-country, it seems pretty universal that people are more open-minded when they are used to diversity (usually in major, cosmpolitan cities) than in rural areas…so maybe the United States (in certain areas) isn’t that bad, afterall.

  • viveutvivas

    @petersancarlos, I have lived in Spain and I currently live in the US and I must say my experience does not agree at all with the view you expressed. Spain is VERY gay-friendly and very safe compared to anywhere in the US. Also, Spain had gay maariage long before Northern European countries like Germany, which still does not have it, never mind the US. Spanish society is much more open and liberal than that in the US, where we are still being subjected to the spectacle of having battles for basic human rights belonging to the 19th century being fought between what in European terms is a center-right party (the Democrats) and a far-right party (the Republicans), who by the way cooperate to smother any and all movements on the left in the crib.

  • bmwblonde

    Great bunch of comments (1-17), except for a few that show critical thinking “issues.”

    Peternsancarlos, for example — REALLY thinks “opportunities for living and travel are broadest in the US? Hey – PSC — time for YOU to actually, you know, TRAVEL — and take off your opaque “USA” glasses.

    John Doe is right on — goofily USA-centric people ALWAYS think that anything that disagrees with their huge bias (DUH, We’re Top Nation, yada yada) — (NOT!), is some OTHER centric.

    OTTOMAN’s tortured logic is my fav though. “Because Sweden is small and Amurika is BIG you can’t compare them.” HUH? If you’re a big country you are STUPIDER and therefore have to be given a break? HUH? Another proof of the huge success the Republican Right has had destroying American public education. Young people can no longer THINK.

    You can tell which writers have actually, open-mindedly LIVED in other places, and which have either never traveled, or went briefly and stayed in American hotels or were guided by American biased (or cowtowing) leaders on tours. Poor things. This country is a ridiculous, Puritan, anti-sex, anti-woman, FAILING, homophobic 3rd world train wreck. I should know, I’ve watched it deteriorate for 65 years. If you like the USA, you are welcome to it

  • bearpupsj

    I just got back from the Middle East, including specifically Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey, and the values for those countries are a farce. Whoever gathered this data has no idea what they’re talking about!

    These days, Jordan actually has NO laws against consensual gay sex with an adult (I think the age of consent is 16). It’s also a pretty liberal country as far as gay rights go, at least for the Middle East. Yes, it’s not Belgium or Spain, but it’s about where Germany was a couple decades ago; almost no one is “out” but then the scene is still pretty visible. Have these reviewers BEEN to Amman? Even read once about it?

    The flip of this is that Egypt probably got off with too tolerant a status. Homo-hostile! Really, these two countries should switch places.

    And where is Turkey in the negative column? Unless they happened to have included the ruling from last week, last I checked, despite cultural ambivalence (read: behavior in many hamams), “gay sex is unnatural” according to their Supreme Court.

    I won’t bother to echo the statements about Mexico…this ranking is about as unbiased as the Olympic committee…!

  • kevaroo

    I find it crazy that Sweden is at the top. Sure, the laws are government are all for equal rights but the problem is the gay culture, there is none! The most homogenized society where they have taken political correctness to the nth degree and people don’t want to do anything too put of the ordinary lest they stand out. And yes, everyone is treated equally which also means, as far as the society goes, that everyone goes to the same social venues and their is a huge lack of diversity. Gay, bi, trans are not the same as straight people. Everyone should be welcome but even in straight society there are men and women groups for a reason. Perhaps it is a byproduct of fighting for rights and appreciating the struggle, but I have found a more dynamic gay community in Louisville, Kentucky than in Stockholm, and I don’t mean just the clubs scene. Sweden should actually be a cautionary tale for the global gay scene, beware of the gentrification of our beautiful and unique community because once we are thrown into that kind of melting pot everything that we have fought for will be for nothing because we will be forced to shove our flair into the closet so we don’t upset the apple cart an we will fit in with all the straight people at all the straight places. Trust me, after living in Sweden that is exactly how it is.

  • kevaroo

    Any commenter that lops the USA as one is either uneducated or a fool. It is unfair to rate the country as a whole when each individual republic is vastly different. It would be as silly to rank the European Union as a whole rather than as individual countries/principalities etc. . In response to some previous comments, check out Key West, Palm Springs, San Diego, Wilton Manors etc and tell me how anti sex and Puritan the “entire” USA is. Obviously some people need to get out and travel more.

  • Fidelio

    When I was in my early twenties, I wanted to travel to gay friendly destinations strictly for their nightlife. Now in my thirties, I travel mainly for cultural experiences. This list is grossly inadequate for the various reasons gay men travel. I, for one, would gladly visit South Africa or Thailand over Iceland or Netherlands any day.

  • jackheron

    As a queer who lived in London most of his life then rural Spain (eight years) and now a Greek island (five years), and also as a travel journalist, I seriously doubt Spartacus has the infrastructure to report accurately on anywhere. This is a long time ago, but the late Denis Lemon, as editor of the now defunct Gay News in Britain, planted a fictional bar in a fictional town (actually taken from a fictional TV drama series, ‘Akenfield’) in the Gay News bar listings. Sure enough, that fictional gay bar in ‘Akenfield’ cropped up in the Spartacus guide listings the following year.

    Wherever you travel, you will find local information and advice on the net, usually researched and written by people living there, and if there is any financial transaction involved, it will probably feed your money into the local economy, rather than to a German publishing house.

    (For the sake of balance, I would also say the same of one of my former employers, or commissioners, the London-based Rough Guides group.)

  • Gigi Gee

    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is one of the gay friendliest destinations that my man and I have ever been to. If you stay in “old town,” which is south of the River Cuale, you’ll find hotels, bars and restaurants that are either owned by gay people (many of whom are expats), or establishments that are very welcoming.

  • Timo

    Overall you would be in for a pretty boring holiday if you only went to the places that are the ‘gay friendliest’!

    There are lots of discrepancies in this list same as there were last year…..

    Greece still gets -1 because the ‘Locals are Hostile’ and yet Greeks are some of the most welcoming people in the world, but they are not interested in whether you are gay or not, that is your personal business! And they still have not corrected the mistake about the age of consent in this survey. It is 16 for both sexes but with a proviso for gay ‘men’ under 18.

    Peru again get -4 and yet the Peruvians are also very welcoming and yet the survey says ‘Locals Hostile’. Peru also has a very good gay scene too!

    As someone pointed out this is a European survey and some European nationalities are not popular in other countries, perhaps the person doing the survey was from one of these countries and he/she found the ‘Locals Hostile’!

    Spartacus has always been renowned for inaccurate data when we had only the printed guide to rely on although even today it has some oddities! Thank heavens we now have the internet and dating sites/social sites where we can ask ‘the locals’ what the true situtaion is.

  • viveutvivas

    @Gigi Gee, I agree, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico is one of the best gay vacation destinations in North America. Puerto Vallarta is very much like what Provincetown, Key West, or Fire Island used to be before they became gentrified expensive boring retirement villages.

  • alohatad

    @Timo You stated, “As someone pointed out this is a European survey and some European nationalities are not popular in other countries, perhaps the person doing the survey was from one of these countries and he/she found the ‘Locals Hostile’!”

    That makes it very difficult to be objective when doing a global analysis such as this Spartacus project. When in Greece, I wondered if they were so rude to me because I am an American, presumed I was gay – or what. From the moment I checked into my hotel in Athens to our last hours in Greece, when an incomparably rude woman at Olympus Airways intentionally caused us to lose our luggage, I never could tell what triggered their hostility. I’ve never encountered such outright hostility, over and over again. But as to why, you can never know for certain unless this is clearly stated to your face.

    As for comments regarding Euro vs. American vs. South American hostility, I can say that having lived in 14 different U.S. states, the biggest differences in attitude reflect whether you are in an urban vs. rural location. To judge the entire country as “hostile” towards gays is preposterous. Thus, I take that entire column in the survey with a grain of salt as I presume that cities/university towns/resort areas often have more enlightened attitudes than those in remote, rural settings. Fortunately, some of those smaller places can indeed have “laissez-faire” attitudes as well.

    Regarding politics, the criteria for evaluating an entire nation might be more definitive – though as someone else has stated – there is always the influence of the courts as to whether a non-discrimination policy is enforced or ignored.

    In making such distinctions between different U.S. states, such things are not always so clear. In Utah, for example, though there is no state-wide law protecting gay rights, there is in all practicality some legislative protection. In 2009, Salt Lake City passed a law protecting gays in the areas of housing and employment discrimination (done so with the support of the Mormon faith). Thus, those living in what is by far the largest city in the region DO have protection on record.

    Two states are voting this week on extending marital and/or civil union rights to gays as things are rapidly evolving in this arena in our nation and hopefully around the globe.

  • pscheck2

    to me, it seems that our preoccupation with same-sex marriage is a Trojan Horse’ of legal ramifications, that the heterosexual gender now endures! Can’t wait to see all the divorce suits being filed after the ‘aroma’ of a ‘right’ wears off! It’s going to hit the ‘sugar daddies’ the hardest when their ‘Twink’ husbands? see the gold pot of ‘daddy’ dangling in front of him! Now, sit back and watch the show go on!

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