Top 7 European Countries for LGBT Rights

Which European countries are best for LGBT rights recognition?

If you’re planning a trip or move to Europe and want to take into consideration the LGBT rights landscape of your destination, it can be tricky because no two countries recognize LGBT rights in quite the same way.

Fortunately, a leading rights group, ILGA Europe, has just released a series of infographics covering 49 European nations. Below are the top seven countries in reverse order.

They are assessed on criteria like same-sex partnership recognition, gender identity protections and LGBT asylum provisions. These infographics are based on the in-depth annual review ILGA Europe conducts, and you can find that here.


7. France

France’s LGBT community has endured a concerted attack over the past few months. The legalization of marriage equality and same-sex adoption rights has resulted in a number of violent attacks.

Despite this, France has a solid foundation of LGBT discrimination protections and it is hoped that action on marriage equality will signal a wider shift in LGBT friendly policies such as gender recognition.

6. Portugal

Portugal legalized marriage equality in 2010 but did so without inclusive adoption provisions.

In May of this year, Portugal’s lawmakers approved legislation to allow second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples.

Lawmakers rejected a provision that would have allowed same-sex couples the ability to adopt without a biological connection to the child, suggesting that further work is needed.

5. Spain

Spain was among the first European countries to adopt same-sex marriage and, as you can see from the above infographic, Spain’s LGBT residents enjoy strong legislative support.

A recent study suggests that many Spanish gay families feel positive about the climate, but “pockets of concern” remain and, as in most countries, some discrimination does persist.

The study, which it should be noted found many positives, also highlighted that bureaucracy in adoption was often prohibitive for same-sex couples.

4. Sweden

In March, Sweden was rated top in the list of gay travel destinations, and while it may not quite rank at the head of the pack in the ILGA Europe’s round-up, it’s not hard to see why it would be a strong contender given its broad recognition of LGBT rights.

3. Norway

Is a country being gay-friendly a sign of a happy wider population? If a recent report is to be believed, it certainly may play a part.

Norway ranked high among the Our Better Life Index, which attempts to rate how happy each nation’s population is.

While the index doesn’t specifically assess for LGBT rights, there was an observable weak correlation between those countries that are more accepting of gay rights and their achieving a higher ranking in terms of happiness.

The main exception was the United Kingdom, which scored relatively lowly but, as you will see, has reason to be happy on the LGBT rights front.

2. Belgium

Belgium has had same-sex marriage rights for almost a decade now and the sky has not fallen.

The number of same-sex marriages have remained fairly stable since the law came into force in 2003, with around a thousand marriages per year or 5% of the total number of marriages.

1. The United Kingdom

Here we have the number one. While England and Scotland are still working on marriage equality, the United Kingdom’s equality legislation is some of the most formidable in the world.

You will note, however, that the UK did not score 100%. In fact, no country did.

In particular, gender recognition and gender change recognition is one area where many nations need to improve in order to ensure they are fully honoring the rights of gender variant and trans citizens.

Image credit: Thinkstock. All infographics courtesy of ILGA Europe used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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Matt L.
Matt L.1 years ago

Yay for these countries. Nice to see more and more countries legalize same sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage: How many countries allow gay marriage?

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.1 years ago

Yay us!

Ryan Yehling
Ryan Yehling2 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Monica M.
Monica M.2 years ago

Not surprised by this at all, but I am a bit surprised about Norway. Thought they have strong roots with Christianity.

Andy Walker
Andy Walker2 years ago

All things are relative.I live in Scotland and we've got a long way to go.

Manuela C.
Manuela C.2 years ago

It's good to see people accepting the difference, even if it is slowly!

As Mary L, I too am surprised not to see Netherlands on the list!

Allan Yorkowitz
.2 years ago

I agree Mary. I was surprised not to see the Netherlands on this list. France was an even bigger surprise that they made it!

marc horton
marc horton2 years ago

thanks for the info....still more work to do!

Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago


Fi T.
Fi T.2 years ago

Let's act now