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Europe's 10 most LGBTQ-friendly countries

ILGA-Europe ranked 49 European countries based on how their laws and policies affect the lives of LGBTQ people. Find out which nations topped the list.
Image: Malta
Sailing boats on Senglea marina in Grand Bay, Valetta, MaltaDado Daniela / Getty Images

Europe has long been viewed as a relatively progressive part of the world for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights. But when you zero in on each country, their policies and levels of social acceptance vary greatly.

ILGA-Europe, an LGBTQ advocacy group, has released its annual Rainbow Europe Country Ranking, funded by the European Union, which ranks 49 European countries from most to least LGBTQ-friendly. The ranking is based on how the laws and policies of each country affect the lives of LGBTQ people, and the nongovernmental organization uses a number of indicators, including nondiscrimination policies, hate speech laws and asylum rights to create its list.

Here are Europe’s most LGBTQ-friendly countries, according to ILGA-Europe’s 2020 ranking, and an interesting LGBTQ fact about each of them.

10. Sweden

View of Gamla Stan, Munkebroleden and Tyska Kyrkan, a German Church.Joker / Paul Eckenroth/ullstein bild via Getty Images file

There are more Pride festivals per-capita in Sweden than any other country in the world, according to Visit Sweden.

9. United Kingdom

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in London, England on Aug. 18, 2007.Bruce Bennett / Getty Images file

London held its first Trans+ Liberation March in September, with an estimated 1,500 people taking to the streets for transgender equality.

8. Finland

City skyline in Helsinki, Finland, on Sept. 19, 2014.Tomi Setala / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Helsinki Pride, the capital city’s annual LGBTQ celebration, was attended by the country’s prime minister last year for the first time, according to ILGA-Europe.

7. Portugal

Portugal, Lisbon, Old Town, church and Miradouro de Graca at SunsetSylvain Sonnet / Getty Images

Since 1997, the capital city, Lisbon, has held Queer Lisboa, one of Europe’s biggest LGBTQ international film festivals.

6. Spain

La Concha Bay and the city of San Sebastian from Mount Igueldo, Guipuzcoa, Basque Country, Spain.Cristina Arias / Cover/Getty Images

Spain was the third country in the world — behind the Netherlands and Belgium — to legalize same-sex marriage, doing so in 2005, a decade before the United States.

5. Norway

Oslo, Norway.JTB Photo / UIG via Getty Images

In 1981, Norway became one of the first countries in the world to include sexual orientation in its discrimination law, according to Life in Norway.

4. Denmark

Copenhagen, DenmarkAlexander Spatari / Getty Images

The number of “rainbow families” — those with either two moms or two dads — in Denmark doubled from 2009 to 2019, according to Statistics Denmark, a government bureau.

3. Luxembourg

Adolphe Bridge in Luxembourg CityNicolas Economou / NurPhoto via Getty Images file

Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, is one of only three openly gay heads of government in the world. In 2019, during an address at the United Nations, Bettel called on world leaders to condemn hate speech, saying, “Homophobia is a personal choice, and we have to fight against it.”

2. Belgium

City of Ghent in Belgium.Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via Getty Images file

A new bridge being built in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, will be named after iconic gay rights activist Suzan Daniel, who founded the country’s first LGBTQ association, according to The Brussels Times.

1. Malta

Sailing boats on Senglea marina in Grand Bay, Valetta, MaltaDado Daniela / Getty Images

In 2016, Malta became the first European country to ban so-called conversion therapy, a contentious practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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