LGBT / Gay Guide To Belgium
In Belgium, same-sex sexual activity was first legalised in 1795. Although it would take until 1985 for the age of consent between gay and straight couples to be equalised, Belgium is now regarded as one of the most progressive nations with regard to LGBT rights. Indeed, Belgium was the second nation, after the Netherlands, to legalise gay marriage in 2003, which ensures that married gay couples are given the same rights as married straight couples. Other legislation is in place to prevent discrimination and ensure that gay individuals are protected by law from harassment.
Since Belgium is so progressive when it comes to LGBT rights, it is not surprising that all over the country you will be made to feel welcome regardless of your sexuality. Of course, large urban centres are where you are most likely to find any kind of gay scene, particularly in Brussels and Antwerp, two highly popular tourist destinations. Belgium has a fascinating history and you can sample this through the culture that is everywhere around you, including in Brussels where there are a number of impressive landmarks such as the Grand Palace; the Town Hall; the Royal Palace; the Manneken Pis; the Atomium and the Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule.
Antwerp also has its fair share of sights to see including Central Station; the Cathedral of Our Lady; St James’ Church; Butchers' Hall and the Law Courts. There are also lots of art galleries, museums, theatres and concert halls where you can sample the kind of culture Belgium has to offer. Shopping is also a popular activity for many people, and you will find a great deal of variety when it comes to the shops to choose from. Plus, you can enjoy Belgian cuisine from savoury fries to sweet waffles, as well as the chocolate which Belgium is so famous for. If you enjoy drinking beer, Belgium is definitely the right place to be, as more types of beer are produced per capita there than anywhere else in the world.
Throughout Belgium, there is a relaxed attitude towards sexuality and so you will find there are plenty of gay-friendly establishments to choose from. In Brussels you will find gay bars such as Le Baroque; Le Belgica; Le Boys Boudoir; Le Cancan; ChristoBar; Taverne La Réserve; Chez Maman and Dolores. The city also plays host to a number of gay-oriented events such as the Belgian Lesbian and Gay Pride festival, which involves all the usual fun and games associated with gay pride events from dressing up to partying late into the night. Belgium also has its own gay film festival which is held in Brussels, whilst the city is also home to the Swim for Life event, which raises money for AIDS charities.
In Antwerp there are also plenty of gay bars, clubs and other establishments such as Café Strange; Hessenhuis; Oink Oink Bar; The Boots; Red & Blue; The Kinky's; Cabin Bar; Popi Café and Café DeLux. There are also a number of events held in the city for the LGBT community including Antwerp Pride and Belgian Leather Pride; whilst it has also hosted sporting events such as the EuroGames and World Outgames, which attracted significant crowds.
Overall, then, Belgium is a country worth visiting not only for its heritage, its beer and its food. You will also feel very welcome and be able to explore Belgium’s gay scene in a progressive and tolerant nation. Whether you go to Brussels, Antwerp or other cities such as Bruges, Liège and Ghent you will no doubt find plenty of activities to enjoy and sights to see in a pleasant, safe and welcoming environment which will definitely help you enjoy your holiday all the more.
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