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How LGBT Friendly is the Netherlands?

Traveling seems like the ultimate dream! The world has many beautiful places to explore, but traveling the world as an LGBT traveler isn’t as easy as packing your bags and going.

We have traveled to countries with anti-gay laws and refuse to boycott countries for that reason. We believe traveling the world is for everyone! However, it’s important to do it safely.

A few important questions to remember before traveling to a (new) destination: what are LGBT rights? Where are the LGBT+ safe spaces? What’s public opinion?

In this blog post, we answer all those questions about the Netherlands. How LGBT-friendly is the Netherlands?

How LGBT friendly is the Netherlands?

LGBT Rights in The Netherlands

You must think: the country with a capital famous for its red-light district surely has progressive LGBT rights because LGBT rights are human rights.

And, yes, according to many sources, The Netherlands is one of the most LGBT-friendly destinations in the world (ranking #14 on the Spartacus Gay Index 2021).

Therefore it isn’t weird that LGBT rights in the Netherlands have been some of the most progressive in the world.

The Netherlands is home to the world’s oldest existing LGBT organization: COC Nederland, which has been fighting for LGBTI rights nationally and internationally since 1946.

Being gay has been legal since 1811, and in 2001 the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize marriage for all couples, regardless of gender. How amazing is that! Over 30 countries followed, and we hope more and more will follow.

Registered partnerships between all couples have been allowed since 1998. And all couples may adopt together.

There have been anti-discrimination laws in the Netherlands since 1994 that ban discrimination on the ground of orientation.

Lesbian wedding Netherlands beach

Since 1985, transgender people can legally change their gender when undergoing surgery and hormone therapy, and since 2014 without surgery and hormone therapy.

In 2018, the Dutch court ruled to recognize another gender, adding a neutral option to the ‘male’ and ‘female’ gender identity. 

On the government’s official website, you can read more about the Netherlands’ equality policy plan and LGBT facts following the European Union’s Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

The Netherlands has been a leader in equal rights, but we should keep working on them!

Rainbow Crosswalk, Amsterdam Sloterdijk, Netherlands
Rainbow Cross Walk Amsterdam
how lgbt friendly is the netherlands?

The Netherlands has over 30 cities with a rainbow crossing

Social Acceptance

The Netherlands is highly diverse and culturally liberal. Dutch people are very tolerant, especially in big cities. In surveys, more than 95% of Dutch people consistently approve of relationships regardless of gender.

The world-famous Amsterdam Pride at the end of July and beginning of August is one of the most significant events in the Netherlands. The famous canal parade draws as many straight cisgender- as LGBT people: it’s a party for everyone, celebrating diversity.

During Amsterdam Pride, there’s also always a Pride Walk, a traditional Pride protest march through the city.

Read our queer and lesbian Amsterdam guide with all the things to do, bars, clubs, events + more in Amsterdam!

Unfortunately, small towns can be less tolerant of LGBT people. LGBT people still experience much more violence than straight, cisgender people, which is sadly the reality in many places worldwide.

10% of Dutch people voice hostility towards transgender people. We believe change is coming as the younger generation is more accepting of LGBT people.

And strangely, homo (Dutch for gay) is a curse word often used by Dutchies.

Rainbow houses Houten Netherlands LGBT
Rainbow Houses in Houten

Our Experience

We have always felt very safe living and traveling in the Netherlands. Aside from wolf-whistling, nothing violent ever happened to us. We do hold hands in public and occasionally hug or kiss.

Our looks’ help’ in that sense, as it’s easier for people to accept our relationship – we’re both looking feminine and, I guess, ‘hot’ to some people. It also means that we often fly under the radar, and people don’t always recognize us as a queer couple.

Yet, for Roxanne, coming out wasn’t as easy as you would expect in the Netherlands. Being gay still isn’t as ‘normal’ as being straight, especially not in Roxanne’s small hometown…

Read Roxanne’s coming out story

LGBT Netherlands countryside
Rox’s hometown in the Dutch countryside

We love living in Amsterdam (this is the city where our lesbian love story started!), as it feels like the norms have shifted. It feels like Amsterdam has moved past gaybourhoods – it’s now a happy mix of everything.

We always feel comfortable living out and proud in Amsterdam. Every reaction (of colleagues, fellow students, or neighbors) to our relationship was positive.

LGBT Amsterdam couple on bike

A Gay Traveler’s Experience

Of course, our experience as queer females doesn’t represent the experience of other queer people in the community.

That is why we’ve asked gay traveler Ryan Thomas Woods to share his experience traveling to the Netherlands (with his boyfriend).

“Although I’m Canadian, my dad’s side of the family is super Dutch, and my Grandma was born in the Netherlands before coming to Canada. My Dutch family was open about many things, including accepting whatever you wanted to be or whoever you wanted to be.

It has always been my impression of Dutch people, and when I finally went to The Netherlands with my boyfriend, I felt right at home with my family. Of course, just like in any country, you will have small-town people or small-minded people in big cities who do not understand you, but I felt the percentage of those people in The Netherlands is small.

Giethoorn Netherlands LGBT Gay man Ryan Woods
Ryan in picturesque Giethoorn

As a gay couple visiting Amsterdam, we fell in love with the city. During our three-week stay, we got to experience the culture, cuisine, nightlife, and day-to-day life as a gay couple living in Amsterdam.

We held hands, kissed in public along the canals, and never felt afraid to be openly ourselves, gay and happy. The general feeling of being welcomed extends beyond Amsterdam to places we’ve been to, such as The Hague, Rotterdam, and even the Southern city of Maastricht.

My boyfriend and I have only had positive experiences as gay men in The Netherlands.”

Want to get to know Ryan better? Follow him on Instagram!

LGBT Safe Spaces in The Netherlands

There are many unique places to visit in the Netherlands, with most LGBT spots in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Those two cities are the largest in the Netherlands (looking at inhabitants) and have big gay scenes.

Other cities we love are Utrecht and Eindhoven.

Gay Rotterdam Netherlands
Marischka of Savannah Bay Utrecht LGBT bookstore
LGBT Bookstore in Utrecht
LGBT Netherlands Eindhoven
Light festival Eindhoven

For LGBT people, Amsterdam is one of the most attractive cities to live in and visit. There is no place in the world you can find so many LGBT-friendly attractions per square meter as in Amsterdam.

Start your queer trip in the Netherlands at the Pink Point in Amsterdam for more information.

There’s not one neighborhood to go to; there are places all around the city center. However, there’s a famous gay street in Amsterdam, the Reguliersdwarsstraat, which you can’t miss!

Read our lesbian travel guide with safety tips.

Dutch beaches

Dolmen in Emmen

LGBT Events in The Netherlands

The Netherlands has many unique LGBT events, and we will tell you about the most important and fun ones:

  • Amsterdam Pride: Amsterdam Pride happens every year from the end of July to the beginning of August. With the Pride Walk on the first Saturday and the canal parade on the last Saturday.
  • Roze Zaterdag: Roze Zaterdag translates to Pink Saturday, and this is the Dutch version of the original Pride protest march following the Stonewall Riots in NYC. It’s held every year on the last Saturday of June in a different city in the Netherlands.
  • Milkshake Festival: This is a queer dance festival celebrating diversity! As it happens during the last weekend of July, it’s perfect to combine the festival with Amsterdam Pride.
  • The Roze Filmdagen: Any movie lovers here? We love watching lesbian movies and lesbian short films, and therefore we love going to the Roze Filmdagen in gay Amsterdam. It is the LGBTQ+ film festival of the Netherlands, happening every year in March.
  • TranScreen: TranScreen is an annual transgender film festival in Amsterdam. They offer a multi-day program with movies about gender diversity and organize other events throughout the year.

Netherlands Practical Information

CurrencyEuro (€)
Outletstype C (also works with plug E) and F
VisaThe Netherlands is part of the Schengen Area

Do you have any questions or want to add something to this LGBT Netherlands article? Drop it below or send us a message.

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How lgbt friendly is the netherlands


Sunday 4th of September 2022

I share the same experience as Ro, even though I am a white trans living in the Hague for a year now. People are looking down on you, they give you THE LOOK, they are very much keen on make you feel that you are not equal to them and that if you are not hetero (max gay and white, that is the limit) then you should not even get out to the streets. At the library when I registered, they were very rude and disrespectful. After one year, I think the Netherlands is not a healthy place for trans people. They also hate people in color. Sometimes they even get verbal about it which is very sad. Rac1sm, transphဝbia, xenophဝbia, ടexism and misဝgyny is happening on a daily basis in this country. So, if you are trans and thinking about moving here, just don't. People say Sweden is much better. Let's see. :)

Roxanne & Maartje

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

Thank you for sharing your experience, we're really sorry to hear this (but sadly, not surprised). We gotta do & be better!!


Tuesday 8th of March 2022

Thank you for your input, but i would really like to add a few things about my experience as a trans person. Ive been living in The Netherlands for 8 months now as trans person of color, and i've found that the Netherlands is only WHITE CIS GAY friendly. While here: i've been mistreated by police officers, medical professionals/system and immigration services in a big liberal city (Rotterdam). COC is notoriously transphobic, some of its members refuse to share the same space as transpeople, they even refuse to be in the same room as us. ALSO their is a huge wave of nationalism sweeping the country that also can account for several LGBTQIA+ hate crimes. The Netherlands is great to visit but if you wish to move here get ready to get treated like a second class citizen. If your trans keep in mind doctors will not prescribe you hormones and they will force you to go to a trans clinic that has a 3 year wait list, even if you've already begun your transition. Remember, if a country is only LGB friendly, their not playing for the LGBTeam.

Roxanne & Maartje

Wednesday 9th of March 2022

Hi Ro, thank you for your invaluable input. You are absolutely right, and the Netherlands is in no way a utopia for all LGBTQ+ people—sadly, there is no such place on earth (yet). We have to do and be better.

Angeles Martinez

Tuesday 29th of September 2020

I just spent 5 days at Amsterdam as an older femme with long hair and my very butch younger girlfriend...I felt very much observed and clearly remember the look of shock from this girl in her late 20’s when our eyes crossed after kissing my girlfriend on the street... We got the same look from a waiter when we went to a beautiful Italian restaurant...And also from some younger men.. Maybe Amsterdam is accepting of femme couples being gay, it just fuels into erotic fantasies I guess, but is not as ready to accept butch-femme relationships..

Roxanne & Maartje

Tuesday 29th of September 2020

Oh yeah you are right, it is still not normalized and it's sad. And this is one of the most welcoming destinations in the world... we still need to do a lot of work!

Roxanne & Maartje

Sunday 6th of September 2020

We think that's a little dark to look at it that way - opinions have always been more progressive and less at times so we hope progress will prevail in the future - and we have to help make that happen!


Sunday 28th of June 2020

Thanks Roxanne and Maartje for the different pages here. Your site was one of the first I clicked on trying to find a good vacation place from Germany. Will keep following.

Roxanne & Maartje

Friday 17th of July 2020

You are very welcome Heather!

Once Upon a Journey