Top 10 Most Tolerant Countries in Europe in 2024

Top 10 Most Tolerant Countries in Europe in 2024

One of the most important factors to take into consideration when choosing where to move abroad for members of the LGBTQ+ Community is the level of awareness and tolerance in the country. Some European nations are ahead of others in this area, and knowing where everyone will be able to feel comfortable is a priority.

 

What better time to discuss the most tolerant countries in Europe in 2024 than Pride Month? This June, we will present you with the most LGBTQ+-friendly European destinations, according to the well-known Rainbow Map created by ILGA.

 

 

We have examined the countries ranking in the top 10 in 2024 and will explain why they deserve their spots and what you can expect in each of them when it comes to the rights of the LGBTQ+ Community.

 

The factors we focused on in our country descriptions were:

 

  • Legislation regarding same-sex marriage and civil partnerships

  • Right for joint adoption

  • Access to artificial fertilisation/IVF treatment

  • Stance on conversion therapy

  • The gender transition process and self-determination law

  • Laws concerning discrimination in employment, housing, and access to products and services based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and expression

  • Possibilities for blood donation

  • Mindset 

  • Areas for improvement


 

The Most Tolerant Countries in Europe in 2024

 

  1. Malta
  2. Iceland
  3. Belgium
  4. Spain
  5. Denmark
  6. Greece
  7. Luxembourg
  8. Norway
  9. Portugal
  10. Germany 


 

  1. Malta

 

Malta is the perfect proof that size doesn’t matter. This relatively small island in the South of Europe has been forging the path towards equality for many years now.

 

Did you know that Malta was the first country in the European Union to ban conversion therapy in 2016? That alone earns in the patch of the most tolerant country in Europe in 2024, but there’s more.

 

In 2014, the Maltese government recognised same-sex partnerships, and 3 years later legalised marriage for same-sex couples. 

 

Malta is also one of the few countries in the world to ensure equal rights for the LGBTQ+ Community at a constitutional level. The year 2004 welcomed a nationwide ban on discrimination on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, and expression. However, this regulation still doesn’t include the Equality Act, which would ensure equal treatment in the workplace.

 

Another improvement still to be made is access to HIV-related treatment. PrEP (medication preventing HIV infections) and PEP (medication taken after a possible encounter with a carrier of the HIV virus) are to this day available at an additional cost.

 

The first Pride March in Malta took place in 2004 and was attended by between 50 and 100 people. Since then, it has grown to 38,000 attendees celebrating Pride last year, in 2023. 

 

In 2020, Malta joined the UN LGBTI Core Group, an informal association of the 42 member states standing together against discrimination, violence, and marginalisation of the LGBTQ+ Community.

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Malta


 

  1. Iceland

 

Two islands in the top 3? It can’t be a coincidence!

 

To quote the editors of Guide to Iceland, “Being queer in Iceland is not something that is tolerated; it is something that is celebrated”. 

 

Iceland was one of the first European countries to recognise same-sex partnerships as early as 1996. It took a bit of time for same-sex marriages to become legal in 2010. 

 

Priests can refuse to personally carry out the ceremony based on personal beliefs, but in such a case, everybody will still be granted the service and simply referred to someone else. However, it is said that most priests are happy to assist in uniting same-sex couples. In 2015, the Church of Iceland declared that they would welcome partners of the same gender to marry within their institutions.

 

In 2004, the mindset of Icelandic citizens was much more progressive than that of the US citizens. In a survey, 87% of Icelanders declared their support for same-sex marriage, compared to 42% of Americans. 

 

Adoption for same-sex couples and equal access to IVF treatment for lesbian relationships were introduced in 2006. Six years later, the government imposed new legislation simplifying the name and gender-changing process for transgender people.

 

Another huge advantage is the strong representation of members of the LGBTQ+ Community in the parliament and the media. Iceland became the first nation with an openly queer leader - Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.

 

There is still some improvement to be done in the area of increasing the availability of testing and treatment for HIV and understanding the lesser-known gender variations and sexual orientations such as pansexual or asexual. 

 

The main obstacle Iceland faces in its race to equality is the ban on men maintaining sexual activities with other men donating blood. It is still in place, but under strong debate, and many predict it will (hopefully) be removed soon.

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Iceland

 

  1. Belgium 

 

Belgium - or what is now known as Belgium - was one of the first countries to decriminalise homosexuality in 1795. It happened as the result of the invasion of France, which legalised homosexuality in 1791 and imposed its Penal Code on other conquered nations.

 

This was temporarily reversed for 20 years under the rule of a Christian Party, but the decriminalisation of homosexuality and equal age of consent were reintroduced in 1985 and hold to this day.

 

In 2000, Belgium recognised same-sex partnerships and quickly moved on to become the second country in the world to legalise same-sex marriages three years later. It was preceded by the Netherlands, which currently occupies a spot outside of the top 10 most tolerant countries in Europe, figuring as number 13.

 

The same year, 2003, introduced a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in the labour market, housing, and the provision of goods and services. Gender identity and expression were added to the close in 2014.

 

Same-sex couples can access adoption and IVF treatment on equal terms to opposite-sex couples since 2006. A year later, transgender people received the right to change their legal gender based on self-determination (without the need for surgery), with some exceptions that were removed in 2018.

 

2022 marks the publication of a liturgical document blessing same-sex unions at the Belgian bishops conference. Conversion therapy wasn’t banned until last year, 2023.

 

The majority of Belgian society shows support for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. They demonstrate that by organising and participating in one of Europe’s biggest annual Pride parades. 

 

The Saint Jacques neighbourhood in Brussels is named one of the most queer districts in Belgium, with an abundance of LGBTQ+-friendly bars and businesses run by members of the Community.

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Belgium

 


  1. Spain

 

Spain’s fight for tolerance and equality was a tumultuous one. Homosexuality stopped being illegal in 1932, but the following regime of Franco introduced a period of prosecution for the LGBTQ+ community.

 

Homosexuality was decriminalised again in 1979, with an equal age of consent for same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

 

Catalonia is definitely the leader in the race towards a barrier-free Spain. It recognised same-sex partnerships in 1988, with Madrid following only in 2001.

 

Same-sex marriage and equal adoption rights were introduced nationwide in 2005. A year later, the first monument against homophobia was created in Sitges, a town close to Barcelona, in Catalonia.

 

Spain is currently the 3rd country in the world with the highest number of citizens expressing their support for same-sex marriage and equal rights to adoption. This is visible through the constant progress in this area, with the latest accomplishment being the ban on conversion in therapy in 2023.

 

Despite lagging 13 years behind Catalonia in recognising same-sex partnerships, Madrid is now known for one of the largest queer districts in Europe, Chueca. Eixample - also affectionately called Gayxample - is a neighbourhood popular among the LGBTQ+ community in Barcelona.

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Spain

 

  1. Denmark

 

Denmark absolutely can’t be missing from the list of the most tolerant countries in Europe in 2024. Just like its neighbours from up North, it leads the way towards a world where everyone is equal.

 

It was the first country in the world to introduce registered partnerships for same-sex couples in 1989. Ten years later, it became the first country in the world to recognise two legal parents of the same gender.

 

In general, Denmark is a true leader in the aspect of parenthood among the LGBTQ+ community. Since the recognition of two legal parents of the same gender in 1999, lesbian couples also gained the right to artificial insemination at public hospitals on the same terms as women in heterosexual relationships in 2006.

 

In 2010, same-sex couples received equal adoption rights. Since 2022, lesbian mothers no longer have to prove how their child was conceived. The female partner of the pregnant woman automatically becomes the child’s legal parent. 

 

And in case the fathers of the children wish to get involved, Denmark also proposed a solution for that in 2024. Nowadays, up to 4 parents (2 legal and 2 social) can receive part of the parental leave. 

 

Same-sex marriage is also possible thanks to the amendment to the Marriage Act from 2012. It allows couples of the same gender to get married in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Denmark on equal terms to opposite-sex couples.

 

In 2014, Denmark collected the patch for another first, being the first European country to allow legal gender change on the basis of self-determination.

 

Despite all the progress, there are still incidents which motivate the Danish government to progress even more. 1 in 3 members of the LGBTQ+ Community admit to falling victim of discrimination on the grounds of their gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or expression.

 

The abuse is primarily aimed at transgender people - with 56% reporting being subjected to hate crimes on that basis.

 

Denmark intends to handle these issues by introducing the 2nd national LGBTQ+ action plan. It consists of 39 initiatives meant to increase the safety and well-being of the Community and promote equal opportunities between the years 2022 - 2025. 

 

The government also provides funding for supplementary training for teachers regarding ways to spread awareness, support, and create a safe environment for queer students.

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Denmark

 

  1. Greece

 

Greece has jumped a whopping 3 spots since last year’s ranking - all thanks to the huge milestone of legalising same-sex marriage at the start of this year. It became the first country in the South-East of Europe to do so, which lands it a well-deserved spot on the list of most tolerant countries in Europe in 2024. 

 

The Mediterranean country is steadily making up for decriminalising consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners relatively late in comparison to other European countries on this list, in 1951. 

 

The period of 2015 - 2018 saw a lot of positive changes happening for the LGBTQ+ Community:

 

  • 2015 - recognition of same-sex partnerships

  • 2016 - introduction of legislation protecting the LGBTQ+ Community in the labour market

  • 2017 - simplification of the legal gender change procedure based on self-determination

  • 2018 - implementation of equal adoption rights for same-sex and opposite-sex couples

 

Greece is trying hard to catch up to the other leaders in the race for an equal Europe. Every year for four years brought a significant change for the better.

 

In 2022, conversion therapy became illegal in the eyes of Greek law. Men who maintain sexual relations with other men can also donate blood without any restrictions. 

 

Although religion still remains a deep-rooted part of the Greek culture and attitudes may vary across different parts of the country, the intense progress Greece has undergone over the recent years leaves us hoping it will keep moving in the right direction.

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Greece

 

  1. Luxembourg

 

Luxembourg, like Belgium, was swept under the French rule in the 19th century. This is why it also belongs to one of the first countries to decriminalise same-sex sexual activity and establish an equal age of consent by falling under the French Penal Code in 1794. 

 

The age of consent for same-sex couples was briefly raised to 18 (with that of opposite-sex couples remaining at 16) in 1971. It was amended in 1992, and since then, the LGBTQ+ community can once again enjoy equal rights in that area.

 

Luxembourg is a rather conservative country, with traditional Christian values playing an important role in the culture. However, the developing attempts to ensure equality land it in spot 7 of the 10 most tolerant countries in Europe in 2024.

 

Same-sex partnerships have been recognised since 2004. Same-sex couples gained the right to marry and adopt on equal terms as heterosexual couples in 2015.

 

Luxembourg’s very Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, celebrated the introduction of the new law by marrying his partner. At the same time, he became the first serving leader to marry a same-sex partner in the European Union.

 

Despite fears that the decision would spark unease among society and cause a wave of protest, it was met with approval and led to more positive changes for the LGBTQ+ Community. In 2018, transgender people received the right to legally change gender based on self-determination.

 

Since 2021, men who have had sexual relations with other men can donate plasma without restrictions. After 12 months of no sexual contact with MSM (men who have sex with men), they can also donate blood.

 

Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression is illegal in the labour market, healthcare, and the provision of goods and services nationwide. In a survey from 2019, 87% of Luxembourgians stated they believe that the LGBTQ+ Community should enjoy equal rights. 

 


  1. Norway

 

Norway was a bit late to the party when it comes to lifting the ban on homosexuality. It didn’t join the liberated club until 1972.

 

But, just a decade later, it caught up by becoming one of the first countries in the world to pass an anti-discrimination law explicitly concerning sexual orientation in 1981. 

 

Norway also recognised same-sex partnerships quite early, in 1993. However, same-sex couples had to wait a while for the right to get married, which didn’t come until 2009. The same year, they were granted equal rights to adoption and artificial insemination.

 

Expanding on the topic of parenthood, Norwegian law recognises the female partner of a pregnant woman as a legal parent with equal rights, obligations, and benefits from the moment of the child’s conception. 

 

In 2016, Norway passed a law allowing transgender people over the age of 16 to change their legal gender based on self-determination as the 4th country in Europe. Children between the ages of 6 and 16 may do so with parental consent.

 

The age of consent in Norway is equal for all sexual orientations and genders at 16. As of this year, conversion therapy is no longer recognised by the Norwegian law.

 

Since 2017, men who have had contact with MSM can donate plasma. Initially, they were able to also donate blood after the period of 12 months of no sexual contact with other MSM, but this deferral period was lowered to 6 months this year.

 

One major flaw in the Norwegian system is that only one in four referred patients can access gender-affirming healthcare, with the rejected patients being left with no alternative. A psychiatric diagnosis is also required to qualify for the treatment. 

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Norway

 

  1. Portugal

 

The LGBTQ+ movement in Portugal started with the publication of a manifesto for the liberation of sexual minorities in Diario de Lisboa in 1974. Since then, the country has come a long way in the area of tolerance. 

 

Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1982. The first Pride March took place in Lisbon in 1999 - the same year same-sex unions were recognised. A decade later, in 2010, same-sex couples received the right to marry.

 

In March 2011, the Portuguese government passed a gender identity law simplifying the process of changing gender and name for transgender people. It is said to be one of the most advanced laws of this kind in the world.

 

Portugal is one of the first countries in the world to include a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in its Constitution, in 2004. It was further strengthened in 2007 with the introduction of the new Penal Code.

 

In 2013, discrimination on the basis of gender identity was added to the list of hate crime provisions in the Penal Code. Two years later, gender identity became included as a protected ground of discrimination in the labour market.

 

Same-sex couples have enjoyed equal adoption and IVF treatment rights since 2016. However, surrogacy is still illegal in Portugal for same-sex partners, and it is only legal for opposite-sex couples in extreme cases of infertility, such as for women born without a uterus.

 

80% of Portuguese citizens declared their support for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ Community in 2019. Restrictions on blood donation were lifted in 2021, and conversion therapy is banned as of March this year.

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Portugal

 

  1. Germany

 

Just like most of Germany’s history, the timeline of milestones on the path to ensuring equality for the LGBTQ+ Community in the country was a tumultuous one.

 

Homosexualism was decriminalised relatively early in comparison to other countries in Europe, in 1871. During the heyday of the Weimar Republic, in the 1920’s and 30’s, tolerance increased. However, heavy prosecution returned with the arrival of war, and the regime of Nazi Germany terrorised the LGBTQ+ Community.

 

Change came during the Cold War, with the decriminalisation of consensual sexual relations between same-sex couples in 1968 in East Germany, and a year later in West Germany. 

 

The new millennium welcomed more changes, starting with the recognition of same-sex partnerships in 2001. However, this type of union didn’t offer the same rights as opposite-sex marriage and was made unavailable after the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2017.

 

Now, same-sex couples enjoy the same tax breaks and social security benefits as opposite-sex couples.

 

Adoption for same-sex couples became legal much earlier than marriage, in 2005. The right was extended in 2013 by allowing a same-sex partner to co-adopt a child already adopted by the second parent, giving both parents equal rights and obligations.

 

There is no legal regulation concerning IVF treatment for lesbian women, but there is no outright ban in this area, either. It remains a grey zone, which needs to be addressed as a next step.

 

The legislation regarding discrimination on the grounds of gender identity, sexual orientation, and expression differs among parts of the country, but regulations regarding the labour market and the provision of goods and services are introduced nationwide.

 

Men maintaining sexual relations with other men can donate plasma as of 2017. The initial deferral period of 12 months of no sexual contact with MSM to donate blood was lowered to 4 months in 2021. A revision based on “individual risk assessment” is currently in the works.

 

Since 2017, German law recognises a third gender - intersex people no longer have to choose between the traditional male/female division in legal matters. Conversion therapy was banned for minors and partially forbidden for adults in 2019. 

 

There has been much controversy around the self-determination law, with multiple drafts which were met with criticism from the public. The most recent draft, introduced in 2022 and approved in 2023, is expected to come into life this November. It states that a transgender, intersex, or non-binary adult must give a three-month notice expressing their decision to change legal gender based on self-determination.

 

Thinking about moving? Check out our jobs in Germany!

 


These are the 10 most tolerant countries in Europe in 2024. Of course, the best way to determine how comfortable you feel somewhere is to visit, talk to local people, and get a feel of the culture. However, knowing the crucial milestones and the general timeline of achievements in striving towards equality is also important. 

 

The most crucial thing is to feel free to be yourself, have equal access to all goods and services, and enjoy the same rights as everyone else. Before making the decision to move abroad, we recommend talking to someone who has lived there about their experiences. 

 

Progress is being made at a different speed in different countries, so consider all the factors that are important to you and choose a place that best matches your expectations. 

Recommended Articles

A reliable guide compiling information about the employment support offered for Ukrainian citizens in 5 countries: Spain, France, Poland, Germany, and Portugal.

May 10, 2022 by
Lucyna

How to make the best of your trip? Create a weekly travel plan! Find out how to do it effectively and make sure you get the best travelling experience possible!

Feb 7, 2023 by
Guest Blogger