Friendly LGBTQ+ Countries
by Christine Kinori
Over the past few years, change has not only been seen but it has also been felt. Some countries have heeded the calls to the challenges facing their LGBTQ+ population. It has been felt from the community level to the government levels. In several countries around the world, the lives of the LGBTQ+ individuals are changing over the years. For the longest time, many have taken to the streets during pride festivals to advocate for their rights.
Apart from being named the happiest country in the world, Denmark is ranked as one of the most LBGTQ+ friendly countries. It has not been an overnight journey, but a result of decades of change. According to research, it is the first country in the world to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions, in the form of registered partnerships and later in 2012 was replaced by a new same-sex marriage law. In addition, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was entirely prohibited. For LGBTQ+ families, adoption is allowed. With zero recorded incidents of locals hostile, prosecution, murders or death sentences to LGBTQ+ individuals. This is with no religious influence. LGBTQ+ marketing is allowed.
Luxembourg is a small landlocked country mostly known for being the wealthiest country in the European Union. Its prime minister, Xavier Bettel is one of only 3 openly gay heads of government in the world. In an address at the United Nations, he called on world leaders to condemn hate speech stating, “Homophobia is a personal choice and we fight against it.” LGBTQ+ rights are highly protected by laws. Adoption and LGBTQ+ marketing are allowed with equal age consent and no religious influence.
Portugal is another country that is more accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals. Since the year 1997, its capital city, Lisbon, has held Queer Lisbon, one of the Europe’s biggest LGBTQ+ international film festivals. This helps create awareness both at the social level and national level. It has been ranked number 1 after Australia and Canada as the most friendly LGBTQ+ country in the world. It has laws that protect its LGBTQ+ citizens against discrimination, hostility, prosecution and even murder. LGBTQ+ marketing and adoption are also allowed.
LGBTQ+ rights in Sweden are considered the most progressive in Europe; and in the world, it has the lead as one of the most friendly LGBTQ+ countries. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Sweden is one of Europe’s most gay-friendly countries with anti-discrimination and same-sex marriage legislation. According to studies done, there are more pride festivals per-capita in Sweden than any other country. Some of the rights for LGBTQ+ community include: gender identity, right to change one’s legal gender since 1972, discrimination protections and recognition of same sex marriage since 2009. To top it all off, they are allowed to serve in the military openly — something that we don’t often see in other countries.
Norway has come along way to be where it is. According to “Life in Norway” magazine, it became the first country in the world to include sexual orientation in its discrimination laws. As a result of the collaboration with Sweden’s government, Norway has come up with strategies of how to include LGBTQ+ individuals in the national governments to ease the burden that they carry. The LGBTQ+ community is allowed to serve openly in the military. Norway also has come up with an act that protects LGBTQ+ individuals against discrimination and have increased parental rights.
Belgium is a country mostly known for its chocolates, waffles, fries and beers, but it has not been left behind in regard to laws. A new bridge being built in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, will be named after iconic gay rights activist Suzan Daniel, who founded the first LGBTQ+ association according to the Brussels Times. Elio Do Rupo, Belgium’s prime minister from 2011–2014, was one of the three openly gay heads of government in the world. This has contributed much to the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in the country.
Malta is one of the few countries that have made LGBTQ+ rights at the constitutional level. It has also introduced equal marriage and a gender recognition laws. In 2016, Malta became the first European country to ban the so-called conversational therapy — a practice that aims to change a person’s sexual or gender identity. It has played a major role in facilitating protective sexual orientation and gender identity laws for the country.
Though the journey can be termed as slow and steady, it has not gone unnoticed how some countries are gradually changing to be LGBTQ+ friendly zones. LGBTQ +organizations and activists are playing a major role to ensure that we are able to create discrimination-free areas from community levels. It is a calling moment for the countries that have not yet embraced homosexuality to join and create a safer environment for community.
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.