For most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer travelers, planning a trip often involves researching local attitudes and laws relevant to the LGBTQ community. Thankfully, the internet is home to a long list of important resources for LGBTQ travelers, which includes the 2019 LGBTQ+ Danger Index, a comprehensive survey that ranks the most and least safe countries for queer travelers to explore.
The 2019 report was recently published by Asher and Lyric, a website that promotes health and safety advice for international travelers. It ranks 150 popularly visited countries around the world based on eight factors, including legalized same-sex marriage, LGBTQ worker protections, anti-discrimination laws, criminalization of hate crimes, and adoption recognition. The survey also considers each nation’s most recent Gallup score, which examines what residents say about the overall quality of life, as well as whether same-sex acts are illegal in the country and if propaganda and morality laws are currently in place.
So which are the safest countries for queer travelers to visit? According to the 2019 index, Sweden is currently the world’s most LGBTQ-friendly nation, topping this year’s list with an overall score of 322 points. The Scandinavian country was followed by runner-up Canada with 309 total points, which placed just before Norway, Portugal, and Belgium, with scores of 307, 306, and 301 points respectively.
The top 10 safest countries for LGBTQ travelers, according to the 2019 index:
- United Kingdom
Sweden’s top safety ranking on the 2019 LGBTQ+ Danger Index isn’t hugely surprising. The Scandinavian country became the world’s first to allow trans individuals to change their legal gender post-transition in 1972, and in 2009 it became the seventh nation worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage.
The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), an online network of queer-approved hotels, transportation, tourism boards, travel agencies, tour operators, and more in over 80 countries worldwide, also considers Sweden to be one of the most welcoming countries for LGBTQ travelers. On its website, the international association refers to Sweden as “a country where their social acceptance of LGBTQ issues matches and at times exceeds their policies,” adding that in addition to decriminalizing LGBTQ identity and legalizing same-sex marriage, the country also has “a host of nondiscrimination benefits that are inclusive of gender, sexuality and expression.”
While the 2019 LGBTQ+ Danger Index provides important safety insight for queer travelers considering international adventures, it’s important to remember that measuring one’s level of safety—whether at home or abroad—is never quite as simple as referring to a recent report. The contributing factors are helpful indicators of overall attitudes within a given culture, but of course, it’s important to remember that national laws don’t always reflect local opinions, and it’s important to do your own research before making a travel decision.