The past year has seen some huge steps taken in the marathon towards marriage equality. With mardi-gras on our doorstep here in Sydney, I’ve been inspired to recycle my short-list of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly cities for honeymooning.
Summer 2014 will see the dawn of legalised marriages between same sex couples in England and Wales under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. In celebration of the success, we’ve whittled down our favourite locations for being out and proud.
This liberal city has long been a haven for the UK’s LGBT community, earning the title of ‘Britain’s gay capital’. Sitting on the south coast of England, the seaside city promotes its laid back, bohemian atmosphere. This attitude makes for a very comfortable environment where you and your beau can stroll hand in hand along the beach, cuddle over a coffee or dance the night away until your heart’s content. It has also recently been named the UK’s top location for civil partnerships which will almost certainly still be the case for same sex marriages next summer.
There are dozens of specifically gay-orientated hotels cafés, bars, restaurants and clubs to be found but you’ll find it’s a fun and friendly city across the board. Brighton is full of museums and galleries for the artistically inclined as well as having facilities for adrenaline-fuelled activities and water sports for the active. Feel like teenage sweethearts eating popcorn on the Ferris wheel at Brighton Pier or simply relax on the beach or in one of the city’s beautiful, green parks – the choice is yours.
The British weather is, as always, unpredictable. If you’re looking for a good excuse to get cosy, June and July will still be mild but with less chance of rain. For warmer climates, opt for August, which is also the month when Brighton holds its internationally popular Pride festival. We can’t promise sunshine but there will definitely be a sea of rainbows.
“Love is love, and nobody knows that better than San Francisco.” This Californian city is proud of its LGBTQIA+ community and history and so it should be. It is my dream destination and with their history of liberal politics it’s not hard to guess why. Their tourism website is singing about marriage equality success from the rooftops, saying: “Our gates have always been open, which is why our LGBT community is one of the strongest (and most fabulous) in the world. And now that Prop 8 is a thing of the past, where better to make it official than in the city that practically invented gay.”
Beach babes, adventure lovers, culture vultures, foodies, clubbers and fashionistas alike – rejoice! You’re all welcome in San Fran. Here, love of all shapes and sizes is not just accepted but celebrated. Heralding as the place where American marriage equality began, the city has a colourful history as a hub for diversity in all senses of the word. In fact, from February 12th to March 11th 2004, approximately 4,000 marriage licenses were issued for same sex couples, which saw lovers from across the world flock to the Californian city.
September to November is the best time for warm weather averaging at around 20C with the least chance of rain. Although almost entirely surrounded by water, the famous Golden Gate Bridge connects the northern shore to the mainland. It’s the ideal chance to escape city life and appreciate nature’s beauty with lush green parks and breathtaking coastal scenery.
The Dutch capital is very proud of its history as the birthplace of LGBT rights. Homosexuality was decriminalised in the city in 1811, and the first official gay bar followed in 1927. Then, in 2001 the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage which means that it’s the ideal place to celebrate the recent equality success – by going back to where it all began.
It’s a great option for couples in the UK wanting to fly cheap, stay chic. Enjoy a romantic stroll through the cobbled streets, picnic in one of its many parks, chill out in its famous quirky cafés and top it all off with a night-time trip to the canal belt where you can watch the sun set over the water. The canals are not only perfect for romantic boat trips or for indulging in floral treats from the Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market, but it’s also the location for their Pride Parade. Not one for doing things by the book, Amsterdam is the only place in the world to have its parade on the water.
The weather in Amsterdam tends to be warmest in July and August but if you don’t mind wrapping up in a couple of extra layers, spring in this city is a beautiful site to behold. Fields of tulips will be in full bloom in all the colours of the rainbow with the added bonus of April and May being the country’s driest months.
Although sometimes overlooked, Cape Town, often referred to as the Mother City, is the capital of the Rainbow Nation in the truest sense of the word. In South Africa it is illegal to discriminate against people because of their gender or sexual orientation, and it is therefore commonplace to see openly gay couples out and about.
The ‘Pink City’ is fast becoming renowned not only for its acceptance of love in all its forms, but also for its services catering specifically for the LGBT market with popular destinations including De Waterkant, Green Point and Sea Point. The city boasts a multitude of beaches including Clifton Third Beach, which was recently placed in the “Top Ten Gay Beaches in the World” by GayCities.com.
South Africa has a colourful, although often tumultuous, history which has played a part in the character of contemporary Cape Town. There are cuisines for even the choosiest palettes as well as some of the world’s finest wines and beers to wash it all down. Once you’ve tasted the country, spend the day learning about its history. Weather permitting, there are boats to Robben Island, perhaps best known as the jail where Nelson Mandela was once held as a political prisoner. After having Malay inspired samoosas for lunch, pop to one of Cape Town’s many museums for some more history or to the theatre to catch a show.
If you can handle the heat, summer sits between December and February when temperatures can rise to above 30C. For something a little cooler, opt for springtime or autumn but the city comes alive late February to March for its huge Pride festival. Although June to August is technically Winter, daytimes temperatures rarely fall beneath 20C and there’s an almost constant promise of sunshine.
Rio is the home of the flamboyant and visually stunning Carnival, the outrageous and gay-friendly festival that runs across Brazil’s capital. Starting two weeks before official festivities begin, Banda de Ipanema is where the Latino LGBT fun begins. It’s neighbour city, São Paolo is famous for having the best and biggest gay pride festival in the world, so Brazil on the whole seems to be becoming increasingly popular with LGBT travellers. Recent research goes as far as to show that one in four visitors to the country identity as gay or lesbian which, for a city with a influx of almost three million tourists a year is an impressive statistic. Gay marriage was legalised in the South American country in May 2013 and has a good history of campaigning for gay rights.
Enjoy some of that famous Carioca hospitality and settle in for a fun and fabulous week in Rio. The city really does have everything, with incredible beaches, fantastic Latin food, bars and restaurants; all on top of a whole lot of culture. The diversity is endless with countless ethnic influences on the city’s atmosphere. Learn about Rio’s history at the Museu Histórico Nacional or simply stroll around and take in the sights, sounds and colours. Ipanema is probably its most famous gay neighbourhood but the pristine white sandy beach and clear blue waters make it a stunning location for everybody.
As with many countries, their pride festivals fall between June and September and these are also the slightly milder winter months, averaging around 25C, the perfect temperature for a roll in the sand. If you like it hot hot hot, their summer falls November to February and it can reach over 30C, but bear in mind it’s also the wettest season.
Nicknamed Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne boasts the famous laid back Aussie lifestyle but with a European twist. This often overlooked gem is as cool as they come with its museums, live music and art scenes and café culture. Make the most of the city’s multicultural demographic by sampling something from Chinatown to the Greek District and everything in-between. In true European-esque style there’s a great system of trams, buses and trains to get you around the city so that you can go from beach to jazz bar with ease.
The best way to discover Melbourne is by getting stuck right in. You’ll stumble upon a great café or bar completely by accident then meet the locals, who always have the best insider secrets. Wander around and see what you can discover, getting lost has never been so much fun!
The weather in Melbourne is famously unpredictable with many suggesting you can see all four seasons in one day. Although it doesn’t have the same year-round glorious weather as Sydney, temperatures can reach up to the mid 20s December to February which is perfect weather for strolling through the streets, soaking up the vibrant city life.
Although gay marriage is not yet legal in Australia, civil partnerships are recognised and allow some of the same legal rights as married couples.