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LGBTQIA+ Friendly Cities to Study & Intern Abroad

by AIFS Abroad
Photos of Prague, Madrid, and Berlin with LGBTQIA+ Pride Support

Last Updated on June 16, 2023 by AIFS Abroad

Studying abroad or doing an international internship provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture while expanding your academic horizons. For many LGBTQIA+ students interested in studying or interning abroad, it’s important to choose from cities that offers a welcoming and friendly environment. In this blog post, we’ll explore some popular LGBTQIA+ friendly study abroad cities and destinations, highlighting their local communities, supportive organizations and exciting cultural experiences. 

Here are just a few of the many cities that LGBTQIA+ students who study abroad tell us they love:

Berlin, Germany 🇩🇪

Berlin can be an excellent study abroad program location that provides a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals of diverse identities, as it’s known for its progressive attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ rights and acceptance. The city hosts the annual Christopher Street Day parade, one of Europe’s largest LGBTQIA+ celebrations, demonstrating its commitment to inclusivity. Certain neighborhoods in Berlin, such as Schöneberg and Kreuzberg, have historically been LGBTQIA+ hubs, with a high concentration of LGBTQIA+-friendly establishments, venues, and businesses. These areas provide a sense of community and offer spaces where you can feel comfortable being yourself.

Paris, France 🇫🇷

Known for its romantic ambiance, Paris also embraces the LGBTQIA+ community with open arms. The city boasts a thriving queer scene, especially in the Le Marais district. LGBTQIA+-friendly institutions and support networks, such as Le Centre LGBTQI Paris-Île-de-France, offer resources, events, and spaces for students to connect and find support.

London, England 🇬🇧

As one of the world’s most diverse and cosmopolitan cities, London is a haven for LGBTQIA+ individuals. From the iconic Soho neighborhood, known for its queer-friendly bars and clubs, to various LGBTQIA+ societies in universities, the city offers endless opportunities to connect and engage with the community. London Pride, one of the largest Pride events in the world, is a must-attend celebration that showcases the city’s commitment to equality. 

Buenos Aires, Argentina 🇦🇷

Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, is widely recognized as one of the most LGBTQIA+ friendly cities in Latin America and around the world. The city has taken significant strides in promoting LGBTQIA+ rights and creating an inclusive environment for its community members. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Argentina since 2010, making it one of the first countries in Latin America to legalize marriage equality. Furthermore, Buenos Aires is home to LGBTQIA+ organizations, support groups, and community centers that provide resources, advocacy, and social services.

Madrid, Spain 🇪🇸

Madrid has emerged as a leading LGBTQIA+-friendly city in Europe. The Chueca district is brimming with LGBTQIA+-owned businesses, bars, and clubs, making it a hub for nightlife and community engagement. The city hosts WorldPride, a massive international event that attracts millions of visitors, showcasing Madrid’s progressive attitude towards LGBTQIA+ rights. Several local universities have active LGBTQIA+ student groups and inclusive policies. 

Barcelona, Spain 🇪🇸

Barcelona, known for its stunning architecture and vibrant culture, is also a welcoming city for LGBTQIA+ students. The district of Eixample, with its colorful bars and clubs, is a focal point for the community. The city hosts Barcelona Pride, a celebration that brings together people from all walks of life to promote equality and inclusivity. Several universities in Barcelona actively support LGBTQIA+ students and provide safe spaces on campus. 

Prague, Czech Republic 🇨🇿

Prague may not be the first city that comes to mind when thinking about major LGBTQIA+ friendly cities or destinations, but it’s a hidden gem for many queer study abroad and internship participants. The city’s LGBTQIA+ scene has been blossoming in recent years, with LGBTQIA+ bars, clubs, and festivals gaining popularity. Prague Pride, an annual event, showcases the city’s commitment to equality.  

Sydney, Australia 🇦🇺

Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, offers a vibrant and inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ students. The LGBTQIA+ scene is centered around Oxford Street in the Darlinghurst neighborhood, which features numerous gay bars, clubs, and community spaces. The city hosts the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, a world-renowned festival that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. Several universities in Sydney have LGBTQIA+ focused societies and support networks. 

Perth, Australia 🇦🇺

Perth, the capital of Western Australia, has grown steadily in its reputation as an LGBTQIA+-friendly city. The Northbridge neighborhood in particular is home to many LGBTQIA+ owned businesses, bars and cafes. The city hosts the annual PrideFEST, a month-long celebration of diversity and inclusion, featuring various events and activities.  

Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪

Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is known for its friendly locals and rich cultural heritage. The city is also inclusive and welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ community. The LGBTQIA+ scene is concentrated in the lively neighborhood of Temple Bar, where queer-friendly establishments and events abound. Dublin LGBTQ Pride, a vibrant parade and festival, showcases the city’s commitment to equality. Many universities in Dublin provide support for LGBTQIA+ students through societies and dedicated support services. 

Milan, Italy 🇮🇹

Over the past years, there has been an increasing acceptance and visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community in Milan. The Northern Italian city hosts various LGBTQIA+ events and festivals, such as the Milano Pride, which is one of the largest Pride events in Italy. It is also home to several LGBTQIA+ organizations and support groups that provide resources, counseling, and advocacy for the community. These organizations play a vital role in promoting awareness, acceptance, and equality in the city.

Rome, Italy 🇮🇹

Rome, with its ancient ruins and cultural treasures, may not be immediately associated with LGBTQIA+ friendliness. However, the city has made significant strides in fostering an inclusive environment. Today, you can find some LGBTQIA+-friendly venues and events in Rome’s Testaccio and Trastevere neighborhoods. Rome Pride, an annual celebration, highlights the city’s growing LGBTQIA+ community and promotes equality.  

Lisbon, Portugal 🇵🇹

Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, is increasingly recognized as an LGBTQIA+-friendly destination. The city’s gay scene is centered around the Bairro Alto and Principe Real neighborhoods. Lisbon Pride, an annual event, draws thousands of participants and showcases the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Universities in Lisbon provide supportive environments for LGBTQIA+ students. 

LGBTQIA+ Abroad: Tips for Choosing a Study Abroad or Intern Abroad Destination 

The LGBTQIA+ friendly cities highlighted in this blog post are just a handful of the growing number of places worldwide that are embracing diversity, fostering inclusivity and offering unforgettable study abroad or international internship experiences. So, don’t hesitate to explore the world and embark on an incredible academic and personal journey that celebrates your authentic self. Here are a few tips to consider while you’re abroad: 

  • AIFS Abroad staff in-country are there to support you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. They can provide insight into local cultural norms, connect you with resources in your host community and assist you if you experience challenges.  
  • Research the LGBTQIA+ history of your host location to familiarize yourself with the region’s perceptions of the identities that you hold. Understanding how this has changed over time may help you to contextualize some of the complex cultural dynamics you could encounter.  
  • Research international student organizations on your host campus, as well as clubs and organizations in your host community.  

At the end of the day, everyone’s experience abroad is unique. At AIFS Abroad, we recognize that the location you choose can have an impact on your sense of belonging. Check out our resources for LGBTQIA+ students to help you select the program and location that will be the best choice for you.

Pin image: Madrid building with Pride flag with text overlay saying "LGBTQIA+ Friendly Cities to Study and Intern Abroad"

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