LGBT Rights in Europe
If you’re LGBTQ and want to relocate to Europe, it’s a good idea to look into if the country you’ll be living in is LGBT-friendly. Almost every country is taking considerable measures to provide LGBT people with equal opportunity. However, certain European countries have taken more legal actions and created a safer environment for the LGBT community.
Gay Rights in Europe
In general, homosexual couples have the same rights to live in the European Union as heterosexual couples, even in nations where homosexuality is illegal. The Court of Justice of the European Union made this determination in June 2018.
However, these three steps can be used to check the recognition of LGBT rights in Europe and the world:
- If homosexual relationships are legal
- If the LGBT community is protected against decriminalization
- If the LGBT community has the right to marry and adopt
Let’s go through country by country and see how countries perform in terms of LGBTQ inclusion.
Belgium is one of the Western Europe countries where gay rights are well protected. In Belgium, LGBTI acts were legalized in 1843. Same-sex relationships have been legally recognized since 2000. Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2003.
There are no laws in Belgium prohibiting the debate or promotion of LGBTQ+ issues. Discrimination against LGBT people is prohibited in Belgium and gay rights are protected.
Since 1971, France has legalized LGBTI actions, same-sex partnerships have been recognized since 1999, and same-sex marriage has been lawful since 2013.
Although the law in 1791 decriminalized homosexual activity, France doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality as a separate entity.
There are no laws in France prohibiting the debate or promotion of LGBTQ+ issues. Discrimination against LGBT people is prohibited in France.
Since 1968 in East Germany and 1969 in West Germany, LGBTI acts have been lawful in Germany. Since 2001, same-sex civil unions have been permitted, and same-sex marriage has been lawful since 2017.
Every person in Germany is free to live out their sexual orientation and identity, and the law protects the LGBTQIA+ community, which includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, transsexuals, and intersex people.
There are no laws in Germany prohibiting the debate or promotion of LGBTQ+ issues.
Since 1951, male homosexuality has been legal (female homosexuality was always legal) in Greece. Same-sex relationship recognition was legalized in 2015. However, same-sex marriage and adoption by homosexual couples are illegal.
There are no laws in Greece prohibiting the debate or promotion of LGBTQ+ issues.
Homosexual activity has been legal since 1890. The country legally recognized same-sex relationships in 2016. However, same-sex marriage and adoption by homosexual couples are illegal.
LGBT discrimination is illegal in some contexts.
In Malta, homosexual activities were legalized in 1973, while recognition of same-sex relationships was legalized in 2014. Adoption by homosexual couples has been lawful since 2014, and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2017.
According to International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Rainbow Europe Map, Malta is the most LGBTQ-friendly country in the world.
In the Netherlands, homosexual acts have been legal since 1811, recognition of same-sex relationships has been legal since 1998 and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2001. The Netherlands is the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages.
Discrimination against LGBT people is prohibited in the Netherlands.
Homosexual activity has been permitted in Norway since 1972, and same-sex partnerships have been recognized since 1993, with same-sex marriage becoming legal in 2009.
There are no laws in Norway prohibiting the debate or promotion of LGBTQ+ issues.
In 1999, the Portuguese government acknowledged gay couples’ unions, and in 2010, it allowed marriage for same-sex couples. In terms of marriage laws, visas, inheritance, adoption, and IVF, Portugal gives LGBT couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
There are no laws in Portugal prohibiting the debate or promotion of LGBTQ+ issues. For further reading, check out our Portugal for LGBT Digital Nomads guide.
Since 1979, LGBTI legislation has been legal, and same-sex relationship recognition has been legal since 1998. Since 2005, same-sex marriage has been allowed in the country, as has homosexual couple adoption.
Spain was the third country that legalized same-sex marriage. Discrimination against LGBT people is prohibited in Spain.
Since 1944, in Sweden, LGBT acts have been legal, same-sex partnerships have been recognized since 1995, and same-sex marriage has been permitted since 2009. Sweden is the seventh country that has legalized same-sex marriage.
There are no laws in Sweden prohibiting the debate or promotion of LGBTQ+ issues.
More Conservative Countries
Among the countries that have the most conservative laws regarding homosexuals are usually Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Latvia.
According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), homosexuality is criminalized in more than 70 countries.
There you have it. We’ve tried to give you some basic information about LGBTQ rights in Europe. It’s worth noting that most of these countries are also among the safest countries.
Please note that no country is immune to LGBTI issues, however, EU countries have shown to be more tolerant of the LGBTI population in general. Europe is a place where people may live more freely, regardless of sexual orientation, without fear of physical hostility in public settings.
Have you ever lived in any of those EU countries we’ve listed above? Are they really gay-friendly? Let us know…Please also feel free to share your insights on our growing forum.
Frequently Asked Questions on Gay Rights in Europe
Is Western Europe a good place for LGBT people?
Western European countries are very advanced in regards to homosexual relations and sexual orientation. If you’re an LGBT individual and looking for a place to relocate to, you can check one of the Western Europe countries we’ve listed above.
How does Central and Eastern Europe handle LGBT rights?
In general, Eastern Europe is more conservative than Western Europe when it comes to LGBT rights. Bulgaria is one of these countries where LGBT people feel less comfortable than in Western Europe.