Whether your goal is to advance your career or simply experience new people and cultures, moving abroad can come with a number of benefits for any individual. However, this decision can prove to be much more challenging when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community, even in a generally open and accepting place such as Europe. Depending on the country, a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation can still open them up to persecution or harassment. To make this choice a bit easier, here are some of the most LGBT-friendly European countries that are always a good choice for couples:
The Netherlands has always had a special connection with the LGBTQIA+ community, being the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, and among the first places to decriminalize homosexuality and even open famous gay bars throughout history. This freedom and openness still remain important today.
In the Netherlands, trans adults can self-identify without a statement from a doctor, children can change their gender, same-sex couples can use surrogacy services or adopt, and expats can even sponsor their partners, thus making it simpler to move to the country. While the attitude of the population towards the community might not be ideal, especially in terms of gender diversity, the Netherlands is still an LGBT-friendly country and a great place to relocate to in Europe.
Small, tucked away, and often overlooked, Montenegro might not be among the first destinations that come to mind when thinking of LGBT-friendly destinations in Europe. However, Montenegro has recently made history, becoming the first non-EU Balkan country to legalize same-sex civil partnerships in 2020. Not to mention that the country offers plenty of opportunities for expats.
By investing in local property, you might get the chance to acquire citizenship significantly faster, and you are truly spoilt for choice in this country. For instance, the town of Herceg Novi in Montenegro offers plenty of real estate opportunities, from stunning coastal apartments to charming historic houses hidden in the mountains. Truly something for every type of couple, all in gorgeous natural surroundings.
LGBTQIA+ rights in Belgium are undoubtedly some of the most progressive in the world, with the country even ranking second on ILGA’s Rainbow Europe Index in 2019. Legalizing same-sex marriage soon after the Netherlands, couples in Belgium can enjoy the same rights as opposite-sex partners, including access to adoption and in vitro fertilization.
Expats can also get the opportunity to marry here if one partner has been living in Belgium for at least three months, and it’s also possible for foreigners authorized to stay here to sponsor their partners. Along with highly advanced transgender rights, Belgium exhibits an incredibly high level of acceptance in general, and is among the best European countries to start a new life in.
Spain has always been among the most culturally liberal countries for the LGBTQIA+ community. From legalizing same-sex marriage early on to countless music, literature, and cinema exploring queer themes, Spain truly has a welcoming and diverse scene for all members of the community, as well as some of the world’s most gorgeous landscapes.
When registering their partnerships, expat same-sex couples have plenty of rights in Spain, including parenthood recognition, adoption, survivor pensions, protection from domestic violence, equal treatment for tax purposes, and recognition for immigration purposes. Individuals have been able to change their gender here since 2007, and Spain was recognized as being the world’s most supportive country of trans rights. This makes Spain quite a friendly and accepting destination for all.
With over 40 countries in Europe, the list mentioned above clearly isn’t exhaustive. However, it does look into the unique challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community in Europe, allowing queer couples to make a better, more informed choice when relocating to the continent.