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These Are the Safest Destinations for LGBTQIA+ Travelers in 2024

For LGBTQIA+ travelers, safety and inclusivity are important factors in vacation plans, and the latest Gay Travel Index once again sheds light on destinations that exceed expectations, fit the bill, or fall short. Since 2012, Spartacus has used a meticulous rubric for grading and ranking countries from the most queer-friendly to the least, providing a reliable metric — for locals and travelers alike — for which countries are improving, and which are getting worse.

The intensive rating system features 18 categories that range from anti-discrimination laws and transgender rights to oppressive religious influence, prosecution, and the death penalty. Zero points are the neutral mark, with points added or deducted based on human rights — or lack thereof. Both positive and negative, points are weighed against the severity of local law or customs. For instance, countries that still punish homosexuality with the death penalty get more deductions than countries that have the death penalty but don’t act on it.

In a five-way tie for first place this year, as the most queer-friendly destinations with 12 points each, are Canada, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain, followed closely by Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Norway, and Uruguay. The U.S. earned a lukewarm ranking of 41, with a total of just four points. On the opposite end, the most hostile countries remain Saudi Arabia, Iran, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, all of which still practice the death penalty for homosexuality.

Notable this year was Norway, rising from 17 to 8, thanks largely to its reversal of conversion therapies. Estonia also leapt up from 15 spots to 32, due to the nation legalizing same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom tumbled from 9 to 21, losing points for diminished LGBT marketing and hostile locals. The U.S. also lost ground, falling from 35 to 41 due to religious influence and hostile locals. Russia took the biggest plummet, from 177 in 2023 to 205, losing an additional five points for its increased prosecutions of LGBT people.

The index also ranks the 50 states individually, with unique-to-U.S. categories like hate crime laws, gay and trans panic defense, and queer infrastructure, while the censorship category reflects the various “Don’t Say Gay”-style laws across the country. With 14 points, New York earns the No. 1 spot for its LGBT protections, lack of censorship and conversion therapies, and concerted efforts put into LGBT marketing and infrastructure. California, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon are all tied for second, followed by Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Mexico. Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Montana are some of the least queer-friendly states, with Oklahoma in last place for the second year in a row, due to censorship, lack of trans rights, and — as tragically evidenced by the recent murder of non-binary student Nex Benedict — hostile locals.

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