If you are looking for a beautiful and gay friendly destination in Europe, we highly recommend Sweden. We first visited Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, in 2018 on a gay press trip hosted by Stockholm LGBT. We learnt so much about being gay in Sweden – it was an incredibly positive experience!
We wrote all about gay Sweden (specifically Stockholm) in our Gay Guide to Stockholm, make sure you take a look!
But don’t just take our word for it. We are not so naive as to think that as tourists we always gain the full picture. This is why we connected with Swedish gay couple Alex and Marcus to learn what it is like for a gay local in Sweden.
Hi guys, please introduce yourselves!
Hi! My name is Marcus, I am 32 and I come from the small town of Eskilstuna, Sweden. I work in project management and communications.
Hi, my name is Alexander, I am 36 and from Gothenburg, Sweden and I am a huge film critic. We met online 8 years ago and have been married since 2017. We love traveling, cooking, fitness, and throwing theme parties at our place in Stockholm.
First up then, what is the stereotypical view of a local from Sweden towards someone who is LGBT (either local or tourist – is there a difference)?
I think Swedes overall are open-minded, usually people don’t mind your sexuality. It’s probably one of the most LGBT friendly countries in the world.
(NOTE: Sweden was in fact ranked THE MOST LGBT friendly country in the world in 2018 according to the SPARTACUS Gay Travel Index – sharing the #1 spot with Canada).
This is definitely true based on our experiences of big cities like Stockholm or Gothenburg, of course. Homophobia still exists to an extent, but this is typically more common for gay people who grow up in smaller communities.
We agree, our experience was very positive and we felt we could be open and comfortable in Sweden. Tell us, have you seen this view change over time?
We don’t remember a big, significant change. Stockholm held it’s first gay pride festival in 1998. Ever since the 90’s there has been a strong representation of LGBT people in the media, and even in advertising. I’m sure that has helped to make us more visible and also accepted.
Still, we don’t usually hold hands, or kiss in public. While most people don’t mind, we don’t want to risk getting hateful comments or worse. It’s just old habits I guess, and how we personally feel.
That’s interesting to know. When we were in Stockholm we felt very comfortable showing affection in public, and felt that no one even noticed. This leads us on to laws, what laws and protection are there for LGBT people? Are these improving?
The legal protection in Sweden is very good for LGBT people, for example the constitution of Sweden bans discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Gay couples have had the same adoption rights as straight couples for years, LGBT people are not banned from military service and we can of course get married.
The latest improvement that we know of is from 2018 when the Swedish Parliament added “transgender identity and expression” to the hate crime legislation, so the law is constantly improving but in general we have the same rights as everybody else.
(Read more about the excellent gay rights and laws in Sweden here.)
Can you tell us more about the gay scene in Sweden? (Gay bars, clubs, saunas, support groups etc)
Well, although Sweden is LGBT friendly, we unfortunately don’t have a big gay scene.
There’s 4 or 5 bars and nightclubs in Stockholm, 2 in Gothenburg. We’ve seen many places close after a few years. I wish we had a gay area or street like some European countries do, but maybe Sweden is too small for that.
But, even though there are not many options when it comes to specific gay nightlife, both LGBT locals and tourists can visit any bar, or nightclub and be welcome!
Many smaller cities have an RFSL office (Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) which could offer both support groups, a meeting-place and parties.
What advice would you give an LGBT traveller coming to Sweden? (what to do and what not to do)
Well, it’s cold and dark for several months of the year, so make sure you come in the summer. Also, Sweden is expensive. Other than that, you’ll love it! Stockholm is beautiful and full of nature and hot guys, so we can really recommend a visit.
We could not agree more. We loved our time in Stockholm! We went in winter and yes, it was very cold but still very beautiful with plenty to do!
We want to say a huge thank you to Marcus and Alex for taking the time to answer our questions. It’s great to see how open and welcoming Sweden is to LGBT tourists and also how protective they are of their own LGBT community. Safe to say, we will definitely be back to check out more of this beautiful country, and you should definitely visit too!
Make sure you head straight over to the following posts about Stockholm, we are sure you will be inspired to go!
- A Complete Travel Guide to Stockholm
- Gay Guide to Stockholm: The Open City
- Gay Travel Europe: 12 Unmissable Destinations (for more of Europe inc Stockholm!)
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