Like most of Western Europe, Spain, France, Scotland and England recognize same-sex marriage rights and are popular vacation spots with vibrant LGBTQ2S+ communities.
1. London, England
London was unkind to Oscar Wilde, but it’s been trying to make up for it. Like in New York City and Toronto, LGBTQ2S+ culture in London has spread from its traditional centre, Soho, to the entirety of this cosmopolis. Stay in Judy Garland’s room at The Gore in Kensington, visit the statue of Alan Turing—codebreaker, father of modern computing and prominent victim of anti-gay laws—on St Mary’s Terrace in Paddington, or have a drink at The Grapes, owned by Sir Ian McKellen, in Limehouse.
2. Sitges, Spain
Spain beat Canada to legalizing same-sex marriage by 17 days. South along the coast from Barcelona, just a little farther from the airport than it is to the city’s Old Town, is Sitges. Set between the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Parc Natural del Garraf, there are a number of gay bars in this community of 28,500, and it’s on its way to becoming the next Mykonos or Ibiza—two of Europe’s other popular LGBTQ2S+ destinations.
3. Glasgow, Scotland
If they’re not already, Scotland and LGBTQ2S+ should be much closer in your mind. Gordon Smith, who runs the global travel consultancy KOG, says Glasgow is, “A very queer city through and through.” Smith recommends John Street and Byres Road especially, along with the Polo Lounge, Barras Art and Design in Barra Market, and the delightfully named neighbourhood of Strathbungo as places of particular interest to visitors seeking diversity.
4. Paris, France
France decriminalized same-sex affections in 1791. There’s a plaque at the corner of Rue Montorgueil and Rue Bachaumont memorializing a gay couple—Bruno Lenoir and Jean Diot—executed in 1750, the last to be so punished in the country. Visit the popular lesbian spot 3W Kafé or stroll the streets of Le Marais, one of Paris’ gay districts. They don’t call it Gay Paree for nothing.
[The story appears in the May 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]
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