How two Greeks converted a gay travel platform into the next best thing for hoteliers

How two Greeks converted a gay travel platform into the next best thing for hoteliers

26 June 2019 15:13 BST How did a gay travel website come up with the most successful idea to help hoteliers reach quality travelers, and became one of the most promising travel platforms in the global hospitality industry?

A few years ago, two Greek guys (one from Greece and one from Cyprus) Nikos and Zenios decided to create a modern gay travel website, with the purpose of helping gay travelers find the best hotels for their holidays. The idea was not just to recommend gay-friendly hotels & resorts, but also to help hoteliers understand gay travelers’ needs, thus offer a high-quality experience to this niche market.

In his constant effort towards this goal, Nikos S. Morantis , CEO at Travel by Interest, has written several articles about the subject. One of these is his recent piece in Hotelier Academy (the leading educational media for hoteliers) about How to Reach more Gay & Lesbian Travelers , and has spent countless hours helping hoteliers understand the actual needs of global gay travelers.

The idea has always been to help hoteliers understand the diversity of the audience without distinguishing them from their other guests.

The project soon became a hit among hoteliers around the globe. And, following its recent redesign by Zenios Zeniou , Travel by Interest’s co-founder and Creative Director, the platform was transformed from a gay travel directory to a major travel website for every traveler seeking for more personalized ways to pick a hotel.

But what is the story behind this transformation and how did these two young professionals penetrate the global hotelier market and speak openly about gay travel, even at conservative destinations?

One month before speaking at GNetwork 360, one of the leading LGBTI travel conventions in the world, Nikos S. Morantis & Zenios Zeniou analyze their ‘gay business success story’, showcasing how the LGBTI community can make a difference with real talent and hard work! First things first: how did you come up with the idea of creating a gay travel website that would help hoteliers communicate with LGBTI travelers?

NM: As we are Greeks, tourism and hotels are in our DNA! When I was 25, gay travel was a new thing and everybody was struggling to understand this niche market. However, back then, most people perceived the LGBTI community as a source of quick and easy money.

Realizing this, we decided to invest in creating a better way of treating gay travelers, that would not just focus on money. We decided to create a channel where LGBTI travelers could find useful information and, at the same time, hoteliers could better understand the gay market’s needs and improve their services — always focusing on mutual benefits, both for travelers and hoteliers. This means that you had to speak openly to hoteliers about LGBTI travel and make them understand our habits. Were they open to that information or did you face discrimination and offensive responses?

ZZ: Surprisingly, the acceptance of LGBTI people was much higher than we could ever imagine. Of course, money is a good way to encourage businessmen to hear you, but we always focused on building a good culture for our audience, so we insisted on the services.

The first few years, we delivered a special training course to hotel staff about LGBTI travel, before recommending the property to the gay audience. And we were not just talking about how to treat their gay guests properly, but also about the beauty that lies within diversity and that as gay travelers, we don’t require any special treatment or service!

And we were impressed, especially with Greek hoteliers, who were very open to hear us and happy to speak and educate their staff. Did you ever encounter any weird behavior while speaking about the LGBTI community to the hotel staff? Were there any homophobic people who were not open to what you had to say?

ZZ: We were truly impressed with the training procedure, as people felt really comfortable. As a matter of fact, there were many times when someone from the audience became emotional, as they shared with us some sad stories about friends of theirs who were still in the closet.

As for the ‘less open’ topics, we did encounter some controversy towards transgender people. And we tried really hard to make it clear that any kind of discrimination towards any person is simply unacceptable. The hotel staff training usually turned into an intense discussion around human culture, and I am pretty sure that it even helped in improving the hotels’ entire mentality!

Regarding homophobia among hoteliers, it is really a rare thing. And yes, we did face some stupid behaviors a couple of times, however, you can rest assured that they got just the answer they deserved. How is Travel by Interest helpful for LGBTI travelers?

NM: Think of Travel by Interest as your best gay friend who has been everywhere and is always there to advise you about your trips — either you are searching for a hotel to stay or a destination to visit.

For almost every destination, we have created a special hotel collection with the top gay-friendly hotels – also including major destinations like Mykonos , Bangkok & Lisbon . In the meantime, we are also creating special gay travel guides for major destinations around the world, informing about their gay-friendly attitude and gay nightlife.

Moreover, gay travelers can find more gay-targeted hotel collections, like the best gay-only hotels in the world , or gay-friendly hotels for honeymoons . Almost all hotels confirm their open mentality through their photos, showing single men or even male couples. Each hotel profile is also enriched with gay-popular places nearby, while our TBI Blog special Gay Section features many fascinating gay articles about gay nightlife, gay beaches, etc. Which countries were the most difficult to accept the fact that you represented an LGBTI travel project?

NM: The answer is definitely not what you might expect. Greece , Thailand and Portugal are at the top of the list with the friendliest hotel professionals – they are really open to welcome LGBTI travelers and offer them an upgraded experience. Staying on the bright and surprisingly good side of things, hoteliers from several conservative destinations, like Bali & Maldives, are really open to gay travelers and make an important effort to ensure that their hotel grounds are safe for the LGBTI travelers.

And for that reason, after we were sure of their welcoming character, we tried to help them connect with gay audiences. In any case, it is still a fact that there are places where homosexuality is not accepted, but that doesn’t mean that gay travelers must not visit those places as well — of course, always having in mind the local situation and mentality. So far so good, but how did you transform a gay travel website into a global platform that covers all travel categories and travel interests?

NM: To be perfectly honest, it felt a little bit ‘miserable’ to isolate gay travelers into a specific website. So, since there are many more niche, interesting markets, we decided to evolve the platform into the ‘Travel by Interest’ concept.

The first step was to change our name from Destsetters (gay travelers are trendsetters, so our initial travel project was named Destsetters – Destination Settters) to www.travelbyinterest.com , and open more categories like Food, Wellness and Luxury.

For all these new markets, we applied the same recipe, offering to travelers selected hotels per travel category, as well as useful guides and articles that help them organize their trips. Of course, hoteliers loved the idea and supported the project even more. And now what? LGBTI travelers are not your thing anymore?

ZZ: On the contrary! The global gay travel market is still our main target group and our strongest competitive advantage. This year, we will invest in creating much more content that will help gay travelers get even better booking decisions.

But we love the project’s diversity as well as the fact that the gay category stands out, being always at the top of our lists. And we really don’t care if homophobic people leave our website for that. Travel By Interest is made for modern travelers, with love for culture and people. So what comes next for Travel by Interest?

ZZ: Now we are working on further improving the website’s content and user experience. Our main focus is to find more hotels to offer to our audience. Last year, we launched even more specific hotel collections like hotels for gay wedding ceremonies or hotels with handsome men in their photo shooting.

This makes our hotel content more playful and useful, which helps us build an even closer relationship with our audience. Lastly, we urge you to register at Travel by Interest, so that you can save your favorite collections, articles, and hotels, and book your future trips easier and more organized!

This article was sponsored by Travel by Interest.

Prides 2019: 3 great tips for each major pride parade coming this summer!

Prides 2019: 3 great tips for each major pride parade coming this summer!

This bisexual filmmaker will give you all The Feels with Pride month series Marking 50 years after the Stonewall Riots in New York City, 2019 is expected to see the largest international LGBTI Pride celebration ever.

Pride owes almost everything to the people that fought for us and our rights, during the June 1969 events and beyond, so that we can all live and express ourselves freely today.

Most probably you are planning on attending at least a couple of this year’s Pride Parades, which have already started taking place since the first weekend of June, and will go on throughout summer.

For this article, Travel by Interest have chosen not to simply write you another list of the major Pride events coming up, but give three tips that will help you enjoy the most of your time and shine bright like the rainbow!

After all, Prides are always a good reason to travel to a different city, so it’s great to have a few insider tips to keep you on the right track.

So pack your bags, choose your destinations, and start building your Pride to-do list!

Participants dressed in leather in the annual Pride Canal Parade on the Amstel river in Amsterdam on 1 August 2015

The weekend-long street parties, massive circuit events, and a gagging Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade make it a popular stop for many gay travelers . The Pride is welcoming to everyone, especially our leather friends. WHEN?

27 July 2019 – 4 August 2019 THREE GOOD-TO-KNOW TIPS

> TAKE THE MOST FABULOUS PHOTOS The parade is always super busy but, thankfully, the canals are several kilometers long, with many spots along their banks to sit and watch the parade. The best spots for taking photos are on the sides of the bridges. However, these are usually taken hours before the event. Your best chances to take some good and colorful photos are on the Prinsengracht, at the Magere Brug on Amstel River, and at the Eenhoornsluis at the end of the Route.

BE PART OF THE FUN! To take part in the parade on one of the fancy Pride Boats, you need to apply beforehand. You can make a request at the organization’s website, however, keep in mind that only 80 boats can participate and sail in the parade — so don’t keep your hopes too high. There are, of course, several other boats that lie ashore of the canal, which are also rather difficult to join, since they are often occupied by the LGBT organizations of large companies, who share them with their employees. So if you have any friends or old lovers living in Amsterdam, maybe it’s time to text them and see if they can ensure a fancy spot for you.

SO MUCH MORE TO DO IN AMSTERDAM There are plenty of other gay events taking place at the same time as Amsterdam Pride. The Reguliersdwarsstraat, in particularly, is an impressive party with huge crowds, that you should definitely include in your to-do list. Rembrandtplein, Zeedijk, and Nieuwmarkt are also three great places to party all night long.

WHERE TO STAY:

The best hotels to stay in Amsterdam during the Pride week are INK Hotel Amsterdam MGallery by Sofitel , Hotel Mercier , and W Amsterdam . Have a look at the selected list of Hotels in Amsterdam for LGBT travellers .

After more than 40 years in existence, Paris Pride is known for its perfect combination of festive and political atmosphere. Even though its name has changed, its cause remains intact. WHEN?

26 June 2019 THREE GOOD-TO-KNOW TIPS

> EVERYBODY COMES TO PARIS The march will begin at 2pm and end with a huge, free party, either at Place de la Republique or at Place de la Bastille. If you are planning on visiting Paris for Pride, you’d better book a gay-friendly hotel as soon as possible, as it is estimated that more than half a million people will go out to the Parisian Streets.

NOT JUST A PARADE There are many events, circuit parties and fun activities going on during the Pride week, most of which take place at the gay district of Les Marais. So, if you are looking for the most packed places full of gay guys from all over the world, you know where to go. And if, for some reason, you don’t like big crowds… well, choose another destination to celebrate Pride!

PICK YOUR SPOT The Pride will depart from Montparnasse and arrive at Place de la Republique. Major checkpoints throughout the route are Boulevard de Sébastopol, Strasbourg St Denis, Boulevard St Martin, and Place St Michel.

WHERE TO STAY:

There are hundreds and hundreds of hotels in Paris, however this is a list of handpicked hotels in Paris ideal for staying during the Pride week.

With its motto this year being Generations of Resistance, San Francisco Pride celebrates its 49th birthday. This year, an estimated number of more than 1.9 million of people are expected march down the streets of the city! WHEN?

29 June 2019 – 30 June 2019 THREE GOOD-TO-KNOW TIPS

> DRAG CELEBRITIES ALERT Pabllo Vittar, probably the 2nd most popular drag queen in the world (only after Mama Ru) will honor San Francisco Pride by attending the SF Pride Main Stage.

LEATHER-UP Wear your most tight, black, and kinky leather outfit and join the San Francisco Leather Pride Contingent – one of the most well-organized BDSM communities in the world. Because, hey, it’s okay to be kinky!

FUN STARTS EARLY The Pride Parade will run from 10:30am until 3pm on Sunday 30 June. People start gathering at the starting point at least two hours prior to the parade. Usually, the route spreads along San Francisco’s Market Street, from Steuart Street to 8th Street.

WHERE TO STAY:

As a supporter of the LGBTI community, Hilton San Francisco partnered with PRIDE, so this year will start at the UNION Square. That makes Hilton San Francisco a great accommodation option if you want to access the event easily. Hotel Whitcomb, Joie de Vivre Hotels and Resorts, and PARC 55 are also active supporters of the San Francisco Pride, so we highly recommend them as well.

For gay New York , this is a particularly special year. After all, this is the place where the first-ever Pride Parade took place, 50 years ago. There are 50+ scheduled events in New York, taking place all around the city! WHEN?

1 June 2019 – 30 June 2019 THREE GOOD-TO-KNOW TIPS

> BACK TO BASICS A special event is scheduled for the 28 June near the Stonewall Inn, where community activists, organizers, and politicians will gather to talk about the Stonewall Riots. The general admission is free, so take a break from your colorful fun and honor the people who helped make a difference for all of us.

CELEBRITY PRIDE Many important and famous people will attend the NYC Pride Parade on 30 June. Some of the parade’s grand marshals are the cast members from Pose, Monica Helms (a trans activist and United States veteran) and the Gay Liberation Front. Madonna will also perform at Pride Island during World Pride (don’t hold your breath, the tickets are already sold out)!

A DEATH DROP TO DIE FOR RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Star Winner, Alaska, will host an in-store shopping event at MCM Soho Store. The event will be followed by a fabulous performance by the drag queen.

WHERE TO STAY:

New York will turn into a big gay hotspot this year, so you can stay anywhere in the city center and you will be close to at least a couple of LGBTI events. Of course, if you want to be near the gay nightlife, you should definitely opt for Manhattan. Luxury and gay-friendly hotels in New York City we recommend are The Wall Street Inn , The Paul Hotel and W New York .

Since 1981, Pride Toronto has evolved into a pretty lively celebration that attracts loads of party enthusiasts. The festival spreads through 22 city blocks, which are all closed to traffic… This is what we call a HUGE pride! WHEN?

1 June 2019 – 30 June 2019 THREE GOOD-TO-KNOW TIPS

> FIGHT AIDS The AIDS Memorial in Barbara Hall Park was created for all the people from the local community who died of an AIDS-related illness. This year, 519 new names will be engraved on the memorial. On Tuesday 18 June you are called to Candlelight AIDS Vigil, which, for this year, is themed Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow!

MONTH-LONG CELEBRATIONS Every single day of June is filled with events. From comedy shows, to gagging drag queen performances and extreme clubbing nights. Pride Toronto is THE place to be! ( Check out all the events here )

F UN & COLOURS The Pride Parade of Toronto on 23 June will begin at Church and Bloor Street at 12p.m, and is expected to last for at least 3.5 hours — and it will surely be worth every minute. Handsome guys, costumes, and colors, alongside an upbeat and positive atmosphere will make you have a heck of a time. You will surely love it!

WHERE TO STAY:

We highly recommend you choose an apartment/hotel in The Village, the gay neighborhood found at Toronto’s downtown core. The area is at the intersection of Church and Wellesley Streets and it’s where most of the gay bars are located, as well as where the Pride takes place!

This year’s Pride theme in Chicago is Stonewall 50: Millions of Moments of Pride. The Pride march is only a small part of a huge set of celebrations, including large-scale events featuring popular musicians and drag queens. Chicago Pride is expected to spread extra queer fun this year! WHEN?

22 June 2019 – 23 June 2019 THREE GOOD-TO-KNOW TIPS

> PRIDE CELEBRITIES A gigantic one-day festival will mark the 50th anniversary of Chicago Pride in Grand Park. Iggy Azalea and Steve Aoki will set the mood, joined by Tamar Braxton and Kathy Sledge. Various drag queens will also attend the show like Shea Coulee, Alexis Michelle and Coco Montrese, all known for competing in RuPaul’s Drag Race.

PARTY & BE FABULOUS Pride in Chicago finds the city’s clubs and bars more alive than ever. There are a dozen of fabulous gay parties happening in the city like the Fabitat, Off Chances, Slo ‘Mo, FKA, Burly, Queen!, MadonnaRama & other fabulous events ! NOT INTO THAT MUCH FUN? We know that Prides can sometimes be overwhelming for some people — after all, not everybody is after non-stop partying and dancing. While in Chicago, check out the gay bars of Lake View, Wrigleyville and Uptown, all of which are a bit further away from Pride’s main street, and where you can […]

LGBT tour operator facing death threats over visit to Ethiopian holy site

LGBT tour operator facing death threats over visit to Ethiopian holy site

Lalibela is a pilgrimage site for Coptic Christians (Lonely Planet) A LGBT tour operator is facing death threats and hate messages from the Ethiopian Orthodox community over plans to visit Ethiopian religious sites.

Chicago-based Toto Tours sparked anger after posting on social media about trips to an ancient pilgrimage site, Lalibela.

The site is known for its distinctive rock-cut churches, and the post included a play on words, “We will rock you,” in reference to the song by Queen. Toto Tours President Dan Ware believes this was misinterpreted.

He told VOA News : “[It was] just trying to be clever. Just to have a saying. It didn’t mean anything other than this experience of seeing this incredible place will change your life. We’re not going to do any kind of activism.”

Toto Tours’s post was spotted by Ethiopian blogger Seyoum Teshoum , and religious groups are now holding protests and calling for the government to ban the tour operator, warning that gay travellers could face violence.

“It’s been spiralling out of control,” Ware said.

At a press conference on June 3, Dereje Negash, vice chairman of Sileste Mihret United Association, an Ethiopian Orthodox Church organisation, condemned the tour operator.

Negash said gay travellers with Toto Tours “will be damaged, they could even die” if they visit Ethiopia, and “Toto Tours are wrong to plan to conduct tours in our religious and historical places.”

Toto Tours responded in an email to AFP, as reported by the Guardian , saying that the company had been “terribly misunderstood” and calling for protection from the US State Department and the Ethiopian tourism ministry.

“We come with only the greatest respect and humility,” Ware said. “Our company is not aimed at spreading values contrary to local cultures when we travel around the world. We are simply an organisation where like-minded people can travel comfortably together to experience the world’s most precious wonders.

“This is terrible discrimination, and when the word of this spreads internationally, as it is most likely to do, it will have a negative impact on the important tourism industry in Ethiopia.”

Homosexual acts are criminalised in Ethiopia and are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

But Ware pointed out it is not illegal to be gay in the country, only to act on it, adding that he believes Ethiopia should come to terms with the fact that gay tourists are here to stay.

Toto Tours has been organising sightseeing holidays around the world for its mainly LGBT clientele since the 1990s. They are currently waiting to hear from the Ethiopian government whether they will be allowed in the country.

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Traveling While Gay: 6 Essential LGBT Travel Tips

Traveling While Gay: 6 Essential LGBT Travel Tips

The LGBT travel market is worth an estimated $211 billion worldwide but, in many parts of the world, queer travelers face unique safety concerns. More than 70 countries still criminalize homosexuality —including popular tourist destinations like Barbados, Jamaica, Egypt, Dubai and Singapore. Even in places where same-sex relations aren’t illegal, there can be harassment, threats and violence. It’s the last thing you want to think about on vacation, but it’s the world we live in. Currently, 73 countries criminalize same-sex relations. Even if laws are not enforced, LGBT travelers can face discrimination, harassment or even violence. According to Community Marketing & Insights (CMI), 64% of LGBT travelers say their safety as a member of the community is a chief concern while traveling internationally. And 45% of transgender Americans said they’ve felt threatened with physical or verbal abuse on a trip.

As companies increasingly cater to the LGBT demographic, there’s growing awareness of those concerns: Launched in 2014, the GeoSure app provides hyperlocal safety information for hundreds of destinations all over the world—from the country level down to the neighborhood. Scores are assigned to each area based on data from the State Department, the U.N., and other credible bodies, as well as crowdsourced first-person reviews. "We’re not trying to dissaude people from traveling," GeoSure CEO Michael Becker tells Newsweek. "We want people to travel all over the world. We just want them to do it in an informed, intelligent and inspired way."

In addition to scores for physical harm, theft, medical issues and women’s safety, GeoSure recently added a filter so users can see areas scored specifically for LGBT safety. "We look at the regional, country, city and neighborhood level," Becker explains. "We look at the religious and political environment, the customs and laws, crime stats [and] unstructured data, like local headlines."

If you’re traveling to a new city, whether in the U.S. or internationally, here are several tips to help ensure your trip is safe and relaxing. 1. Do your homework

LGBT activists protest against the Sultan of Brunei, who has ratified a law to make homosexuality punishable by stoning, at the Dorchester Hotel on April 6, 2019 in London. Before you even book your flight, research the situation for LGBT people. Is homosexuality illegal? Are queer people looked at with disdain? Will the front desk balk if you and your partner request a queen-size bed?

Whether or not to visit a country where the LGBT community is marginalized is ultimately your decision, but it should be an informed one. The State Department’s LGBT Travel page is a good starting point, and you can find detailed city and country information on sites like GayCities , TravelGay , Out Traveler , Spartacus and Radr . 2. Use discretion

It’s not fair, but simple displays of affection—kissing or just holding hands—can be problematic, even dangerous, depending on where you are. You might feel like taking a stand, but as an outsider you’re at a distinct disadvantage.

"Observe the laws and respect local customs and cultures," says Becker. "Exercise discretion and comport youself appropriately. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, be discreet. It comes down to knowing your audience." 3. Know your rights

In the United States, the TSA can’t legally ask transgender passengers to remove prosthetics or binders. But that’s not the case everywhere—in some countries, just bringing sexually explicit material, or even condoms, can be used as evidence of sex work.

If you’re traveling with a spouse, you may want to bring proof of your relationship status. If one of you needs medical attention or gets into trouble with the authorities, it may be difficult to assert your marital rights otherwise. 4. Patronize LGBT-friendly businesses

The Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino A growing number of hotels, restaurants and resorts don’t just welcome LGBT guests, they seek them out: Chains like Marriott , Hilton and Preferred Hotels have microsites aimed at gay visitors and IGLTA and TAG both accredit accomodations that meet certain requirements—like having inclusive non-discriminatory policies and training staff on LGBT issues.

Home-sharing is a great way to meet locals, but you don’t want to have to guess if your Airb&b host is an ally. EBAB and MisterB&B focus on LGBT and LGBT-friendly accomodations and, crucially, their hosts can also impart how to navigate being gay in their city.

Matthieu Jost actually founded MisterB&B after he and his partner were turned away by a homophobic renter in Barcelona. The site has listings in more than 135 destinations (not all gay-friendly) and works to protect both travelers and hosts. In repressive areas, for example, hosts have the option of keeping their profile photos private.

"In Russia, we found our hosts are very eager to welcome gay travelers," Jost tells Newsweek . "It’s a way for them to connect with their community when they normally can’t."

If you’re booking a package tour or cruise, consider an LGBT-focused operator. Not only will you be supporting allies, but they’ll know the local landscape, connect you with your community and treat you with respect. Top operators include Detours , Vacaya , Olivia (lesbian-focused), Out Adventures , R Family Vacations (good if you have kids), Atlantis Cruises and Rainbow Gay Tours .

“Every LGBTQ person has a different level of comfortability in their outness," Vacaya CEO Randle Roper tells Newsweek . "We see some travelers dial it down while others amplify it. At Vacaya we try to create an atmosphere where people are free to be exactly who they are."

A gay cruise or tour, says Roper, also means being in the majority, possibly for the first time. "That single change from being an always-minority to a sudden-majority can have a profoundly positive real-world effect.” 5. Be smart about hooking up
The allure of a vacation fling may lead to poor choices. Always be alert when meeting new people online.

Sure, a vacation fling can be a lot of fun, but there are risks, too: An unsuspecting tourist is a prime mark for robbery, blackmail or worse. In some countries, authorities monitor gay dating sites to entrap users. You may find yourself in legal trouble or expected to bribe a police officer.

If meeting someone online, ask for a photo and details about their favorite hangouts. Tell someone where you’re going, even if it’s the hotel concierge. (You don’t have to go into a lot of details.) Meet your date in public and be aware of any red flags.

"Basically, don’t make yourself a target," says Becker. "Be mindful where you’re goin at night. Have your antennae up—dont meet in a sketchy area and don’t accept strange drinks." 6. Always know where to find help

The former U.S. Embassy building in London, designed by Eero Saarinen. If you’ve been threatened or victimized, and you don’t believe it’s safe to go to the local authorities, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. Consular staff will protect your privacy and (ideally) avoid making assumptions or passing judgment. If you are arrested, immediately ask the police to notify the embassy.

OutRight International is a global LGBT rights group that may be able to connect you with local activists, lawyers and resources.

Two marches set to highlight New York City’s Pride events

Two marches set to highlight New York City’s Pride events

A scene from 2012’s NYC Pride march. This year’s parade is expected to draw 4 million. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key) Two separate marches to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots that are credited with starting the modern LGBT rights movement are expected to draw more than four million people to the streets of Manhattan on June 30 as participants or spectators, according to organizers of multiple Pride events scheduled for that day.

Following negotiations led by the New York City Police Department, organizers of the Queer Liberation March announced at a news conference on Tuesday that their march would begin at 9:30 a.m. on June 30, two and a half hours sooner than the noon kickoff time for the official New York City Pride March.

The two marches will each pass in front of the Stonewall Inn gay bar in Greenwich Village, the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, at different times and will travel along different routes, allowing many people to participate in both marches.

A New York City-based group called the Reclaim Pride Coalition first announced plans in January for an alternative march now called the Queer Liberation March. The group has said it believes the official NYC Pride March has evolved into a parade dominated by large corporate floats and no longer represents the spirit and activist militancy of the Stonewall rebellion.

“Reclaim Pride Coalition is a growing global coalition of over 100 organizations in at least 18 countries and thousands of individuals who are reclaiming NYC Pride so it better represents the queer communities (Trans, Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two Spirit, Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming + and Allies) and our struggles,” the group said in a May 14 statement.

Officials with the group announced at Tuesday’s news conference that its Queer Liberation March will follow the same historic route as the very first Pride March held in 1970 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It will begin 9:30 a.m. in Sheridan Square near the Stonewall gay bar and travel up 7th Avenue across West 10th Street to 6th Avenue, where it will proceed to Central Park where a rally with speakers and entertainers will take place.

Organizers note that the groundbreaking 1970 Pride March also traveled to Central Park for a rally.

Heritage of Pride or HOP, the group that has organized New York City’s Pride events, including the annual Pride March for more than 20 years, disputes claims that its march no longer represents the spirit of Stonewall.

James Fallarino, a spokesperson for Heritage of Pride, told the Blade earlier this year that in addition to the larger turnout expected from people in other U.S. locations, New York Pride this year is serving as host for World Pride, an international LGBT event that will take place in the U.S. for the first time this year to commemorate the Stonewall rebellion.

Fallarino noted that the size and scope of the New York Pride March and related events have increased enormously since activists in New York organized what’s believed to be the world’s first LGBT Pride March in June 1970 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

He said there are more than 50 Pride related events scheduled to take place in New York City throughout the month of June. Among them will be an extravaganza closing ceremony on the day of the two marches on June 30 in the city’s historic Times Square. Singer and songwriter Melissa Etheridge will be among the celebrities scheduled to perform there.

According to Fallarino, the total cost for all the events organized by Heritage of Pride will be about $12 million. He said the “vast majority” of the funding will come from corporate sponsors.

“Seventy-four percent of all marching groups are non-profit organizations, and more than half of all marching groups are participating free of charge,” Heritage of Pride said in an April 11 statement referring to its official NY Pride March. The statement added, “Upwards of 150 marching groups are coming from outside the U.S. to participate in this historic event.”

Fallarino said four million people were expected to turn out for the New York Pride March this year, with about 115,000 expected to march and the remainder of the crowds expected to line the streets as spectators.

In an April 11 statement, Heritage of Pride said its march would kick off at noon at 26th Street and 5th Avenue will proceed south of 5th Avenue before heading west on 8th Street. The statement says after crossing over 6 th Avenue the march will continue on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village passing in front of the site of the Stonewall Inn bar.

It will then turn north on 7th Avenue, passing in front of New York City’s AIDS Memorial before ending in the Chelsea neighborhood just north of 23rd Street and 7th Avenue, the statement says.

The statement says that among five Grand Marshals selected to lead the march will be members of the Gay Liberation Front, the first known LGBT activist organization to form following the Stonewall riots.

The decision by the Reclaim Pride Coalition to hold a separate march follows disputes between LGBT activists in many U.S. cities during the past several years, including in D.C., over whether the annual Pride events should be large-scale celebrations involving parades with corporate sponsored floats or whether they should be limited to protest-like marches that highlight the work still needed to overcome discrimination and oppression that many in the LGBT community still face.

In a May 14 statement called “Queer Liberation March Explainer,” the Reclaim Pride Coalition reiterated its reason for holding a separate march.

“The annual Pride Parade has become bloated with 150 corporate floats and horribly over-policed,” the statement says. “This does not represent the ‘Spirit of Stonewall’ on this 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion,” it says. “It does not address the urgent continuing needs of trans and queer people – still under daily attack by the Trump administration and by countries around the world. This is an alternative March designed to include, celebrate, and advance justice for all.”

Those who support the idea of having the Pride events, including marches or parades as a form of a celebration, argue that the LGBT movement has made major gains over the past 50 years and those gains are grounds for a celebration.

Officials with D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C.’s LGBT Pride Parade and Festival, say all corporate sponsors of the events have strong internal LGBT supportive nondiscrimination policies and that the corporate floats in the D.C. Pride Parade are led by LGBT employee groups.

“We understand people want to party,” said Ann Northrop, a longtime New York lesbian activist and one of the leaders of the Reclaim Pride Coalition. “Let them party. But we can’t ignore the bad things that are happening around the world,” she said. “We will be celebrating our history. But our event will be political in nature.”

More information about the two marches and related events can be found at reclaimpridenyc.org and 2019-worldpride-stonewall50.nycpride.org .

Cork LGBT charity reveal plan to ‘Make Cork the Best Place to be LGBT’

Cork LGBT charity reveal plan to 'Make Cork the Best Place to be LGBT'

Cork LGBT charity reveal plan to ‘Make Cork the Best Place to be LGBT’

Cork’s Gay Project have today launched two policy papers on how to make Cork the best place to be LGBT.

Gay Project Chair, Colette Finn said Cork had taken the lead in breaking down the prejudices about LGBT+ and that work would continue.

"We need to allow people agency to become whomever they want. Based on the principles of respect and equality we can make Cork a brilliant place to be LGBT+."

Gay Project Coordinator Padraig Rice said the ‘Making Cork the Best Place to be LGBT’ project was an ambitious goal. "By working together we can do it. To get there we need hate crime legislation to prevent attacks, a ban on bogus conversion therapy and full and equal family rights’ He added: "Locally we need a gay men’s sexual health service to improve health outcomes. An LGBT Equality Hub that will act as a thriving community centre. Greater LGBT visibility and awareness and for an LGBT lens to be applied to all citywide policy-making and strategy formation."

He also suggested ‘Making Cork the Best Place to be LGBT’ will have significant social and economic gains.

"A safer city means more tourists, more investment and more jobs. Its also means people can live their best lives possible – that is our ultimate aspiration.

"Since the last local elections in 2014 we have achieved significant social change for the LGBT community. We fought and won the civil right to marry and the right to legally change your gender. Ireland is now seen globally as a beacon of hope for LGBT people. However, we still have a way to go."

In 2018, ILGA Europe and the Gay Travel Index ranked Ireland 15th in terms of LGBT human rights and policy protections.

Mr Rice went on: "With the local elections on the horizon, we have put together five achievable proposals that if implemented by the new Cork City Council would make Cork the best place in the world to be LGBT. It’s an ambitious goal – but we think Cork can do it!’

The Gay Project is a charity and NGO that supports gay, bi and trans people. It celebrates gender and sexual diversity and campaigns for LGBTQ human rights and policy protections.

The two policy papers were launched. One with a local focus and one with a national focus.

The most romantic gay destinations perfect for a spring vacation

The most romantic gay destinations perfect for a spring vacation

Anti-trans lesbians tried to protest at Swansea Pride but were ignored Spring is a season of romance. So Travel by Interest has created this very special article for couples searching for the picture-perfect destination to spend their romantic vacations!

Spring is officially here, and so is our need for vacations and relaxation. A pina colada on the beach sounds fantastic as it is, but we still have a long way to go for summer.

Well, if you ask us, spring is the perfect season to add a sprinkle of romance in your life.

Travel by Interest has devoted spring to romance and couples. We created this special article for all the love birds out there, serving you the most popular destinations around the world for romantic gay holidays.

So, call your other half and announce to them that you are going on the most romantic trip of your lives. If you pick one of the below destinations, they would never refuse! Romance in Spring: Pass or Smash?

No matter how you look at it, spring is the ideal season for romantic gay holidays. The weather is slowly getting warmer and most of the Mediterranean countries enjoy all-day-round sunshine.

Since it’s a low season for many destinations (except Maldives and some Asian countries), many hotels offer discounts and special packages.

Popular destinations are not overcrowded with hot men, offering you privacy, seclusion and, above all, peace of mind. These and much more make spring the best season for romantic gay holidays.

Attention: This article is allergies-free! 1 Santorini

Everything about Gay Santorini screams ‘romance’. The island’s breathtaking sunset, stunning cave-like hotels perched on a steep hill, and elegant atmosphere make it an amazing stop for couples, newlyweds and forbidden lovers.

Its perfect landscape also makes it the ideal backdrop to pop the big question.

Since too much romance can make you nauseous, a popular practice followed by gay couples is to visit Mykonos first for some fun and partying, then devote the last days of their holidays in Santorini.

Searching for some ideas on what you should do when in Santorini? Check out this article about the top 5 things to do in Santorini for gay couples. Recommended Hotels

2 Corfu, Rhodes & Crete

All Greek Islands offer something unique for romantic holidays, so it’s difficult to choose one for spring romance. On this occasion, taking a tour is the best, if not the only, option.

For your gay tour, we would recommend you visit the islands of Corfu , Rhodes & Crete . All three islands feature idyllic landscapes perfect for relaxing and celebrating your love, alongside a vivid nightlife (in case you get bored from too much cuddling). Recommended Hotels

3 Prague

Prague’s Grand Baroque architecture, romantic cobblestone streets, and joyful bohemian vibe will make your romantic vacations seem like they were taken straight out of a Fellini film. The city boasts an LGBTI-friendly attitude, offering a vivid scene with many gay bars and clubs.

Prague caters to all types of gay travelers. Whether you are celebrating an anniversary with your husband, or you’re looking to explore your open relationship on a fun trip, Prague has you covered. For a luxurious and romantic experience, we highly recommend the hotels at Prague’s picturesque Old Town. 4 Sitges

It wouldn’t be a proper gay vacation list without mentioning Europe’s number one gay destination, Sitges . This gorgeous seaside town is a Mecca for gay travelers, couples or not, hosting countless gay events, one gay and two nudist beaches, dozens of outdoor cafes, gorgeous restaurants, 23 gay bars, 4 nightclubs, and two very busy saunas.

Even though the city is very ‘touristic’, it has managed to maintain its picture-postcard look. There are not many romantic activities to do in the destination, but it’s packed with great restaurants for fancy dinners and various museums and art galleries to discover the local culture. 5 Bali

Bali’s natural beauty and wide diversity of luxury hotels make it one of the top destinations in Indonesia for romantic holidays immersed in nature.

There are many romantic things to do on the island, but its seclusion and privacy is certainly its most important attribute for couples. Finding isolation on the island is very easy as long as you know where to look.

Your hotel will be of utmost importance as it will be the place where you will spend most of your time. Even if you are not planning to stay much in your room, a good hotel will open you up to new romantic experiences, like romantic dinners on the beach or refreshing spa sessions for two. The floating breakfast is a must-try experience as well. Recommended Hotels

6 The Algarve

Located in the super-romantic Portugal, the Algarve is a great place to celebrate your love (even if it’s mainly promoted as a family destination). Though there is not much queer about the Algarve, its gorgeous beaches and breathtaking landscapes are more than enough to convince you to spend your hassle-free, romantic holidays there.

A typical day in the Algarve for a gay couple includes relaxation at one of many gay-friendly beaches (there are some nudists as well), eating seafood and enjoying a cocktail at one of the gay bars found in Lagos, Portimao and Albufeira. Recommended Hotels

7 Mallorca

Romance can be found everywhere in Mallorca , from its urban cool capital city, to its breathtaking mountains. It’s the ideal place to bask in the sun and relax with only each other’s company. Of course, it also has an abundance of places to dine, wine and woo your lover with romantic activities in nature.

The gay life of Mallorca is centered around Palma and its surrounding areas. There you will find a couple of gay bars where you can socialize with other gay couples. Don’t miss out on watching a cabaret show at Dins Sa Gabia. Recommended Hotels

8 Yangon

Yangon might not be the most well-known destination for gay honeymoons or any sort of gay vacations, however, it ranks well for romantic holidays in Asia.

Only a picture of Yangon will make you realize why couples from all over the world have fallen in love with this destination. 325-foot-tall (99m) pagodas, gorgeous fields of greenery and unforgettable idyllic sunsets will mark your time there! Recommended Hotels

Still in doubt? See our special hotel collection with gorgeous hotels from all over the world displaying photos of gay couples on their vacation and your thirst for romance will exceed its limits.

This article was sponsored by Travel by Interest.

The best LGBT-friendly hotels

The best LGBT-friendly hotels

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-identifying travelers, a welcoming place to stay is perhaps the single-most important element of planning a trip.

After all, nobody wants to plan a relaxing vacation only to have their bliss diminished by feeling unwelcome or unsafe. Austin’s Hotel San Jose has retro design touches like rotary telephones. So with both Pride and summer-travel seasons ahead, we’ve rounded up this list of the world’s top LGBT-friendly accommodations (or cities) around the world.

This roster focuses on queer gay and lesbian-owned properties, hotels with out team members, major LGBTQ destinations and hotel brands that expressly support the LGBTQ community.

With every diverse traveler, the world grows a little bit more tolerant, more empathetic and more welcoming.

In 2019, NYC will mark a half century since the Stonewall uprising—the six-day-long riot that galvanized the gay civil-rights movement. About three million travelers are expected to visit the city for June’s Stonewall50 and WorldPride (making its U.S. debut).

The good news is that most hotels in all five boroughs welcome all travelers and serve as reliably comfortable, safe places for gay guests. So visitors bound for NYC can plan for lodging based on their own priorities, be it budget, location or style.

But for those who wish only to perch in prime gay neighborhoods, aim for Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, the East Village; Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, Bushwick or Park Slope; or Queens’s Jackson Heights.

The history of the gay rights movement runs deep in San Francisco , the city that many LGBTQ travelers consider an essential destination.

Its first gay bar opened in 1908 (although it didn’t stay open for long, the precedent was set), its first lesbian organization started in 1955, and Life Magazine called it the "gay capital of America" back in 1964.

Today, lodging in an welcoming hotel or B&B is as easy as booking a reservation virtually anywhere across San Fran.

But travelers looking to immerse themselves in the city’s go-to "gayborhoods" should aim for lodging in The Castro, Mission Dolores, Tenderloin, SOMA or Bernal Heights.

The City of Angels’ LGBT history began with some of the world’s first gay protests, back in the 1950s. Today, downtown L.A., Silver Lake and even Long Beach (on the city’s southern edge) are home to gay-owned businesses, queer clubs and year-round events.

But West Hollywood remains the city’s top queer destination — and technically a city unto itself, with its own mayor and city council. Its two square miles comprise arguably the gayest city in America, hosting L.A. Pride in early June.

LGBT travelers can expect to find boutique hotels like The Chamberlain, friendly chains like the Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza Hotel and luxury scenes like The Mondrian to deliver sunny hospitality to an array of guests.

One of America’s oldest cities is probably its gayest, serving as New England’s ultimate LGBT destination since the first women innkeepers met for a clambake on the beach back in the early 1980s.

LGBT travelers can book at a hotel or B&B in P-town with confidence that if it’s not gay-owned, it’s plenty friendly. Local sites like Provincetown.com and Women Innkeepers of Provincetown are good places to start your search for a dreamy Cape Cod getaway.

The French Quarter remains one of America’s most all-welcoming, anything-goes neighborhoods, with adjacent areas like the Marigny and Bywater emerging as easygoing gay and lesbian hubs.

Of the city’s many LGBT-friendly accommodations, the Bourbon Orleans Hotel stands out for its central location, affordability and lovely courtyard and guestrooms. Plus it’s part of the New Orleans Hotel Collection, a group of locally owned, boutique properties that expressly markets to queer travelers. In Palm Springs, the Villa Royal was originally the home of Olympic figure skater Sonja Henie. LGBT travelers flock to the desert oasis of Palm Springs for huge annual events like the Dinah (that would be the annual Dinah Shore Weekend, arguably the world’s biggest lesbian event) as well as for its year-round gay appeal.

Hotels are ubiquitous here, but the new Villa Royale offers a quintessential Palm Springs experience thanks to its authentic mid-century origins as a woman-owned hotel on the south end of downtown.

Today, its sleekly restored rooms are complemented by original art, period furnishings, in-room cocktail parlors and a courtyard pool (plus it’s pet-friendly). The Hotel Lucia was formerly known as the Imperial Hotel. It’s also such a residential city that its hotels are predominantly clustered downtown. That includes Hotel Lucia, part of the LGBTQ-friendly Provenance Hotels portfolio.

The boutique property occupies a landmarked high rise that’s now positively brimming with designer charm: think a stellar photography collection, daily craft-brew happy hours, free bike rentals and uniquely Portland amenities (like discounts on locally-made goods).

Among them are the "adult-focused" Boon Hotel + Spa, a lesbian-owned boutique property nestled among the redwoods, complete with solar-heated saline pool, turntables and vinyl records, bikes and in-room breakfast delivery. Another good reason to visit Boon Hotel? Guerneville, and the rest of Sonoma County, is recovering from the 2019 wildfires. Chicago ‘s gay neighborhoods, like Andersonville and Boystown, are home to cute shops and flirty nightclubs. But the Loop is where you’ll find many of the city’s delights, from restaurants to museums to the famous Theater District.

The Kimpton Hotel Allegro is parked right in the middle of the action, one of four LGBT-friendly Kimpton properties in the vicinity.

Head here for chic design and comfy accommodations at good rates (including yoga mats in every room), plus a complimentary daily cocktail hour in one of Chicago’s best hotel bars. In busy Austin, the Hotel San Jose has a much-appreciated private garden. Atop the cool accommodations list is Hotel San José, a central, homey spot that’s an anchor along S. Congress Avenue.

It’s one of several (mostly regional) hotels founded by Liz Lambert, who’s become something of a local lesbian mogul.

Stay here to enjoy the shady pool and courtyard, cozy room features, and even loaner typewriters and Polaroid cameras (buy film in the lobby).

If the sophisticated design and slick in-room technology aren’t enough, the hotel’s rooftop pool and lounge overlooking the city skyline should be enough incentive.

Modernity within complements the historic context of this Old Montreal boutique hotel, just a short jaunt to the Village—one of Canada’s (and the world’s) great LGBT neighborhoods.

Along with cozy rooms, local artwork and a luxury spa, the William Gray offers stellar views from its rooftop lounge and posh relaxation in its gorgeous lobby Living Room, where you can read, have a drink or don headphones to spin your choice of vinyl records.

For a dose of vintage character in the West End, book at The Burrard, a 1956 motor hotel that’s renovated with 21st century amenities and sassy flair to tempt gay globetrotters. The W Mexico City is in the popular Polanco neighborhood, close to top-tier restaurants like Pujol. Among the tree-lined streets of Polanco rises the W Mexico City , where you can enjoy the brand’s modern décor as well as its gay-friendly atmosphere and house team.

The hotel maintains a boutique vibe despite its size, with roomy suites, a flirty indoor/outdoor lounge and restaurant and refined spa offering locally inspired treatments. Casa Cupula has a suite named after the queer Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Mexico’s top LGBTQ destination, Puerto Vallarta is home to glamorous old-Hollywood history, gorgeous beaches and one of the best week-long Pride festivals in the world.

Up the hill from Zona Romantica, check into the city’s suave hotel Casa Cupula for great dining (and a can’t-miss brunch), bright accommodations and a pool club overlooking the ocean.

In its capital city, LGBTQ travelers can enjoy nightlife and culture in neighborhoods like Palermo and Recoleta and relax at Centro’s Claridge Hotel (a World Rainbow Hotels member).

Its 1946 neo-classical building is also home to a gym, outdoor pool and the gamut of modern hotel amenities like high speed Wi-Fi.

Bonus: its restaurant’s outdoor terrace is the perfect spot to sip a pisco sour on your Lima layover to Machu Picchu.

These accommodations are top notch, with classic furnishings, themed afternoon teas, gin and cocktail tastings and flawless service.

The city’s original Axel in Eixample is a slick boutique accommodation in the heart of the gay scene, while its TWO Hotel Barcelona by Axel just is a few blocks over. Both have smart, sophisticated style, plus roof terraces, fitness centers and guaranteed flirty vibes.

Located in Paris ‘s famous LGBT neighborhood, Le Marais, the posh Jules & Jim (named for the Truffaut film) is homey, but chic enough to suit the avant-garde vibes of the 3rd arrondissement and nearby Pompidou Museum.

Breakfast and free Wi-Fi are included in the rate, and you’ll love the easy access to Motzstrasse, home to July’s annual Christopher Street Day and Pride week.

Its June Pride festival is huge—a telling sign that Tel Aviv is among the most welcoming cities for gay travelers. Among its gay-friendly accommodations are two Brown Hotel properties.

One of its top hotels, the iconic pink Mount Nelson, occupies a historic estate that’s been elegantly modernized by Belmond—a longtime member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association IGLTA and a proud supporter of the LGBT community worldwide.

In the capital city, the Humble House may have a modest moniker, but its posh style invites in even the most colorful guests (especially as a World Rainbow Hotel member).

Occupying a converted film-company headquarters, this boutique accommodation is parked among Surry Hills’ enclave of gay bars and entertainment venues in Sydney .

The hotel has 29 rooms, each rocking an industrial-high-design look, and with good rates for a range of room sizes. Don’t miss the subterranean Poly restaurant (which also provides room service), then work off calories with views from the rooftop fitness pavilion.

Every country in Eurovision 2019, ranked by LGBTI equality

Every country in Eurovision 2019, ranked by LGBTI equality

Netta. | Photo: Julia Marie Naglestad / NRK Wondering who to support for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest?

Sure, you could judge countries on their songs, but you should also take the whole picture into account too — and here’s why.

The country you vote for to win could host the competition next year. And if you want to attend — open and out as an LGBTI person — you need to know you’re going to feel safe when you do. Eurovision 2019 is already one of the most political yet

Although the premise of Eurovision is to not make political statements (the rules actually state : ‘no lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted’) the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest already promises to be one of the most political yet.

Israel’s longstanding tumultuous relationship with Palestine automatically makes the song contest political.

In fact, more than 60 queer and trans liberation organizations are calling for a boycott of Eurovision.

The majority of signatories are Palestinian queer groups. Others include the National LGBT Committee for UNISON, ACT UP groups in France and the UK, and the Gay Liberation Network.

Some activists are concerned Israel is co-opting LGBTI rights as a ‘public relations tool to hide its crimes against Palestinians’.

However, Assi Azar, a gay Israeli man who is one of the four presenters this year, believes boycotting sends a ‘message of hate’.

It’s important to stay informed about political discourse within each country competing in Eurovision.

For this reason, we used ILGA-Europe’s 2018 LGBTI-friendly list (with some help from the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2019 for the non-European countries) to work out the countries that are best for LGBTI equality.

Here’s the list from best to worst, alongside each performance this year: 1. Malta

Malta is the clear front runner for LGBTI rights out of any country competing in Eurovision this year. They scored a total of 94.04%, eclipsing the next highest score of 78.76%.

The southern European island country boasts same-sex marriage, equal age of consent laws, anti-discrimination laws, transgender rights and even blood donation for men who have sex with men.

The only area Malta faults on is access to surrogacy for gay male couples, but this is a blanket ban regardless of sexual orientation. 2. Belgium

3. Norway

4. United Kingdom

5. Finland

6. France

7. Portugal

8. Denmark

9. Spain

10. Sweden

11. Netherlands

12. Australia

13. Germany

14. Israel

15. Austria

16. Greece

17. Ireland

18. Iceland

19. Croatia

20. Slovenia

21. Hungary

22. Estonia

23. Switzerland

24. Montenegro

25. Albania

26. Serbia

27. Czech Republic

28. Cyprus

29. Italy

30. Georgia

31. Romania

32. Ukraine

*Ukraine will no longer take part in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, due to political differences between the country’s broadcaster and singer Maruv . 33. Lithuania 34. Poland 35. Latvia 36. North Macedonia 37. Belarus 38. Moldova 39. San Marino 40. Russia 41. Armenia 42. Azerbaijan Azerbaijan is the clear worst country out of all the Eurovision entrants this year when it comes to living openly as an LGBTI person.Although same-sex sexual activity and equal age of consent laws exist, there’s no anti-discrimination laws, rights for same-sex couples, same-sex marriage, transgender rights or surrogacy and adoption rights.In fact, authorities randomly captured and tortured LGBTI people in 2017. See also: Can you guess who this unrecognizable Eurovision diva is?

All the top 10 happiest countries in the world have the best LGBTI rights

All the top 10 happiest countries in the world have the best LGBTI rights

The World Happiness Report 2019 has been released and all of the top ten countries have an exemplary record on LGBTI rights.

The report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network in partnership with the Ernesto Illy Foundation, has ranked 156 countries on how happy their citizens think they are.

Finland came out on top as happiest place, followed Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

All of the top 10 didn’t just come up top for happiness, but they all have extensive laws and legal protections to protect LGBTI people.

The only exception is Switzerland (6), who have civil partnerships instead of same-sex marriages. Joint adoption is illegal, as only married couples can adopt. However, same-sex partners can adopt step-children.

Finland also have a law requiring transgender people to be sterilized before they can legally change their gender. This has been challenged by the country’s legal watchdogs and is expected to change soon.

They are all in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index ‘s joint top first position or fourth position, except Switzerland, which is joint seventeenth. Spartacus judge their list on protections and laws for LGBTI people against state-sponsored homophobia.

The United Kingdom came in at 15th, whereas the United States ranked 19th. Both countries are experiencing political turmoil at the moment, which may explain why they aren’t higher.

So the next time you’re planning your big gay trip away, you might want to bear this in mind. 1 Finland

Legal: Since 1972

Equal age of consent: Since 1999

Legal gender change: Only after sterilization

Serve in military: All LGBTI people can serve

Discrimination protections: Yes

Same-sex adoption: Yes

Same-sex marriage: Yes 2 Denmark

Legal: Since 1933

Equal age of consent: 1977

Legal gender change: Self-identification

Serve in military: Gay, lesbian and bisexual people can serve

Discrimination protections: Yes

Same-sex adoption: Yes

Same-sex marriage: Yes 3 Norway

Legal: Since 1972

Equal age of consent: Since 1972

Legal gender change: Legal gender change

Serve in military: All LGBTI people can serve

Discrimination protections: Yes – including specific intersex protections

Same-sex adoption: Married and committed same-sex partners

Same-sex marriage: Yes 4 Iceland

Legal: Since 1940

Equal age of consent: Since 1992

Legal gender change: Self-identification

Serve in military: No army

Discrimination protections: Yes

Same-sex adoption: Couples

Same-sex marriage: Yes 5 Netherlands

Legal: Since 1811

Equal age of consent: Since 1971

Legal gender change: Only after a diagnosis but without surgery/hormone therapy

Serve in military: All LGBTI people are allowed to serve

Discrimination protections: Protections for sexual orientations

Same-sex adoption: Couples

Same-sex marriage: Yes 6 Switzerland

Legal: Since 1942

Equal age of consent: Since 1992 Legal gender change: Yes Serve in military: Gay, lesbian and bisexual people are allowed to serve Discrimination protections: Yes Same-sex adoption: Step-child only Same-sex marriage: Civil Partnerships 7 Sweden Legal: Since 1994 Equal age of consent: Since 1972 Legal gender change: Legal change Serve in military: All LGBTI people can serve Discrimination protections: Yes Same-sex adoption: Couples Same-sex marriage: Yes 8 New Zealand Legal: Male since 1986 Equal age of consent: Since 1986 Legal gender change: Change without surgery Serve in military: Gay, lesbian and bisexual people can serve Discrimination protections: Yes Same-sex adoption: Yes Same-sex marriage: Yes 9 Canada Legal: Since 1969 Equal age of consent: Since 1969 Legal gender change: Without surgery Serve in military: All LGBTI people can serve Discrimination protections: Yes Same-sex adoption: Yes – varies per region Same-sex marriage: Yes 10 Austria Legal: Since 1971 Equal age of consent: Since 202 Legal gender change: Without surgery Serve in military: All LGBTI people can serve Discrimination protections: Yes Same-sex adoption: Couples Same-sex marriage: Yes See also: