Sweden has long been at the forefront of LGBT rights, having been the first country to decriminalise sexual acts between members of the same sex in 1944. The age of consent was initially set at 18, but in 1972 this was brought down to 15; the same age as for those engaging in straight sex. It is therefore unsurprising to learn that there is anti-discrimination legislation in place to protect gay and transgender individuals. Plus, you can get married and adopt children without your sexuality being a barrier. Since there is such widespread tolerance in Sweden, it is possible to travel through this liberal country without being harassed.

Stockholm is probably the best place to start if you’re looking for some gay-friendly entertainment. Although there is no specific gay village, as in so many other countries, there are certainly plenty of gay bars, restaurants and other establishments where you have an opportunity to meet up with other gay men. It is also in Stockholm that the largest celebration of LGBT rights in Scandinavia is staged. Stockholm Pride attracts people from all over the country, and beyond, with a week packed full of entertainment, events and activities, culminating in a Pride march through the centre of the capital.

During Stockholm Pride you will be able to attend interesting lectures, debates and workshops at Pride House, known as the festival’s cultural centre; although events are held elsewhere in the city as well. You can also enjoy the many theatre and musical performances that are on offer and explore the wide range of stalls, stages and eating establishments that are set up in Pride Park, which becomes the main arena for the duration of the festival that is usually held at the end of July.

Many of the local gay clubs also stage their own events and theme nights that are very popular. One of these events is Mr Gay Sweden. This is a pageant where good-looking gay Swedes compete against each other for the chance to be named the winner and to go on to represent Sweden at the Mr Gay Europe pageant.

Of course, Swedish gay life does extend beyond Stockholm and there is a selection of other events held in other areas of the country that also attract members of the LGBT community. In Gothenburg, for instance, the HBTQ Fesivalen is held, giving members of the public an opportunity to experience Swedish culture through a LGBT lens. Held at the beginning of June, there are debates and seminars to attend, as well as the opportunity to listen to music, watch some films and view some artistic pieces. There is definitely an intellectual edge to this festival with much of it taking place in well-known cultural institutions such as the Museum of World Culture, the Röhsska Museum and the Gothenburg City Theatre.

In Malmö there is the Malmö Pride Festival, also referred to as the Malmö Rainbow Festival, to enjoy. It takes place in late September and attracts thousands of visitors each year. There is a large party which signals that the event is underway and then follows ten days of dancing, music, theatrical performances and drag shows, as well as an opportunity to view the art exhibitions on display. There certainly isn’t a shortage of things to do!

If you’re interested in meeting gay men from other countries, you could always attend Gay Camp, where you get to spend one week of July in the company of other gay men, whilst also being able to enjoy the Swedish scenery and take part in a range of activities. Evidently, if you’re gay, Sweden is probably a good place to be, since Swedish society is generally tolerant of people from all sexualities, something that is reflected in legislation and the overlapping of gay and straight cultures.

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