Austria hasn’t exactly been at the vanguard of LGBT rights, having long been influenced by Roman Catholicism and reluctant to embrace more liberal attitudes. However, the country has been moving in the right direction, bestowing more rights to members of the LGBT community. Although same-sex sexual activity was legalised in 1971, it took until 2002 for the age of consent to be equalised. Since 2009 registered partnerships have been legal, giving gay couples in such a relationship almost the same rights as married couples, excluding adoption rights. However, from July 2013 stepchild adoption by same-sex couples became possible. Thus, Austria has a mixed record when it comes to LGBT rights.

However, as is so often the case, the gay community has been able to thrive in large cities, with the largest and most important city in Austria being that of Vienna. There are other cities in Austria with a significant gay presence, though, including Linz, Innsbruck, Salzburg, and Graz. As capital of Austria, Vienna is definitely a city worth visiting, as there is so much to see and do. It often features as one of the world’s most liveable cities and it contains some amazing buildings and landmarks that are worth seeing in person. The city centre has even been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can also pay a visit to the Johann Strauss monument; the Giant Wheel; St. Stephen’s Cathedral; the Giant Wheel; City Hall; Schönbrunn Palace; Stephansplatz; the Secession Building; the Vienna State Opera; Hundertwasser House and Donau City. There are also numerous art galleries, museums and theatres in the city, as well as shops, cafés, bars and restaurants. You may decide to partake of some of the many cakes and pastries which Austria is famous for, such as the Sachertorte, the Linzer torte, pancakes and apple strudel, whilst enjoying a cup of coffee, since drinking coffee is seen as an important social activity in Austrian culture.

Vienna is also home to plenty of gay bars, clubs and other gay-friendly establishments including X Bar; Wiener Freiheit; Schik; Inside Bar; Gugg; Goldener Spiegel; Alte Lampe; Felixx; Café-Bar Cheri and Café Rifugio. There are also gay-oriented events held in the city, including the Life Ball, Europe’s biggest charity event that raises money to help support people with HIV and AIDS; the Identities Queer Film Festival; as well as the annual Rainbow Parade, a celebration of gay pride; and the Rainbow Ball.

If you enjoy activities which require snow, you could always attend the Gay Snowhappening in Söelden, as you will have a chance to ski, snowboard and socialise with other winter sport enthusiasts who happen to be gay. Obviously, the largest gay scene in Austria can be found in Vienna, but you will find gay-friendly establishments in cities such as Salzburg, where Mexx Gay Bar; Princess Bar; Bernstein and Daimler’s are the most popular on offer. In Innsbruck, Bacchus Salurner; Domcafé and Cocktail Bar M+M are all gay-friendly. In Graz, there are gay-friendly establishments such as Stargayte; RAGE Graz; The Office Pub; Pepi’s Clubbeisl and Batistas. Linz also has a number of gay-friendly establishments in the area, such as Blue Heaven; Café kostBar; Musik Café Sax; Gösser Stüberl; Skygarden and Remembar.

It is well worth taking a trip to Austria in order to explore its long and interesting past, as well as to eat cake and drink coffee. You can sample Austrian culture, including its musical heritage and its artistic side, as well as relax and socialise in the clubs, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés which you will find in whichever town or city you decide to stay. In the larger cities you will also find a significant gay presence and events and activities which cater specifically for the gay community, thus making a holiday in Austria a worthwhile experience.

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