Spain is openly gay-friendly. Same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples were legalized in Madrid and Barcelona appear on many lists of the most gay-friendly cities. Crowds swell to over two million people and get larger every year. The city also boasts its own gay neighborhood, Chueca, which you enter through a rainbow-striped Metro station. In the past 20 years, Chueca evolved from a distressed inner-city neighborhood to a trendy, gay-friendly hotspot.
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Argentina legalized same-sex marriage back in , becoming the first country in Latin America to do so. In , Belgium became the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Denmark was the first country in the world to recognize same-sex partnerships back in , and the Scandinavian country officially legalized same-sex marriage in France legalized same-sex marriage in and was the first country in the world to de-list transgender identification as a mental illness. Iceland, which legalized same-sex marriage back in , was recently ranked as the happiest country for gay men. In , Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote, and it also has stringent protections against LGBTQ discrimination.
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As the western nations grapple with the question whether same-sex marriage should be made legal or not, homosexuality still finds great resistance in many regions around the world. While most citizens in such nations attribute the resistance as just a cultural thing, the reality is that a major cause of it is adherence to their religious teachings. Recently, Russia passed an anti-gay bill that stigmatizes homosexuals by banning homosexuality being taught to children. With Russia hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the pressure is on them from the international community to soften their stance on same-sex relationships. According to an international survey by Pew Research Center this year, the global divide on homosexuality varies considerably from region to region.
Gay and lesbian travel in Central America is very much still in development. Unfortunately, many other places are homophobic — or worse. Note: Unless you're in an openly gay-friendly bar, club, or hotel, same-sex public displays of affection are always discouraged in Central America.