Being LGBT in Italy: Your rights and best cities


Updated on Jul 03 • 8 minute read

As someone travelling to or moving to Italy, you might be wondering, is being gay in Italy acceptable? If so, what’re the safest and best gay cities in Italy to live in or visit?

The good news is that most Italians, especially the younger generation, are beginning to welcome and accept the LGBTQIA community. This has paved the way for several LGBTQ+ clubs and annual pride parades in big cities like Milan, Florence, Rome, Bologna, and Taormina. Having said that, the progress in terms of acceptance or rights is slower than in other European LGBTQ+ friendly countries such as Spain.

In this guide, we’ll share how gay friendly Italy is, the rights that protect the community, the most friendly LGBTQ+ Italian cities, and where to go for exciting nights and events.

LGBT rights in Italy

It is legal to be gay in Italy. In fact,

Italy was one of the first European countries to not make homosexuality punishable by law in 1880. It was also the third country in the EU to allow transgender people to legally change sex in 1982.

Although there’ve been efforts to institute more equal rights for the LGBTQ community in Italy, this is going slow for different reasons. Some reasons include the Vatican’s strong presence in the country and its stance on homosexuality, the parliament’s rejection of the laws, and the public opinion that doesn’t see well that a child has 2 parents of the same gender.

Here’re the laws in place for protecting LGBTQ rights in Italy :

  • Change of gender became legal in 1982.
  • Same-sex civil unions are allowed since 2016.
  • Living together with a same-sex partner is allowed since 2016.
  • Italy stands with the EU law of 2003 against any discrimination on sexual orientation in the workplace.
  • Hormonal drugs used in the feminization of transgender women and the virilization of transgender men are free since 2020.

Is same-sex marriage legal in Italy?

No, Italy doesn’t allow same-sex marriages. However, the country is open to civil unions and cohabitation of LGBTQ couples. If you’re looking to adopt as a same-sex couple, it’s unfortunately not allowed in Italy.

LGBTQ+ friendly cities in Italy

Homosexuality in Italy is widely welcome and accepted in urban cities and the northern region of Italy. The southern region is making some progress towards becoming more welcoming, despite the region having the reputation of being more conservative and attached to religious values.

The most gay-friendly Italian city is Milan, followed by Rome, Bologna, and Sicily.

LGBTQ+ in Milan

Innovative, fast paces, fashion-forward, and full of diversity, Milan is the heart of the LGBTQ+ community in Italy. In fact, it’s even considered the gay capital of Italy. The gay community is largely accepted and welcomed in Milan, where clubs, bars and events for the LGBTQ community are easy to find and always exceed the expectations of their guests.

LGBTQ+ friendly neighbourhoods in Milan

When it comes to LGBTQ+ neighbourhoods in Milan, nothing beats the neighbourhood of Porta Venezia. This centrally located, gay neighbourhood in Milan is a hotspot for the LGBTQ+. You can see it right away as the rainbow flags on the walls of the metro station welcome you to the city.

Once you’re in the city, head to Via Lecco, the heart of Gay Milan. Not only are there several gay-friendly bars and clubs located in this quarter but it’s also home to Milano’s Gay Pride festival every June!

Another district that’s worth knowing is Via Sammartini, which used to be the gay centre in Milan as there are quite a few gay bars and clubs.

Best LGBTQ+ bars in Milan

Gay nightlife in Milan is not to be missed, especially when Porta Venezia has so many places where you can enjoy Milan’s vibrant nightlife! Here’re some of the most popular LGBT friendly bars in Milan:

  1. Leccomilano- Located in Via Lecco this places offers a trendy and international crowd, amazing cocktails, and aperitivo that includes vegan options! On Saturdays, they host a lesbian night with their Femellas party.
  2. MONO- This laid-back, retro, and well-established gay bar in Milan’s Via Lecco is known for its live DJs, rainbow cocktail, and great aperitivo.
  3. Blanco- In a city of fashion and design, this bar perfectly resembles Milan’s personality. They’re known for their cocktails and being a home for creatives as the interior is done with great attention to design and the venue has been host to various events where photography, art, design, and music have been at the forefront.

If you’re looking for some gay nightclubs, consider heading to Glitter Club, Gate Party, La Boum, Toilet Club, or One Way.

LGBTQ+ events in Milan

The biggest LGBTQ+ event in Milan is the annual Milano Gay Pride that’s held in June. The event lasts 17 days! The most important and liveliest part is the parade on the last Saturday of June or the first week of July, which ends with several parties throughout the city. During those 17 days, you’ll see plenty of food stands, concerts, live shows, and cultural events such as talks, info stands, art, and more.

LGBTQ+ in Rome

Rome is home to legendary gay parades, events, clubs and cultural events for the LGBTQ+ community.

Did you know that Rome has its own gay street? Via San Giovanni, located right in front of the Colosseum*, is the main gay street of the capital since 1960.

LGBTQ+ friendly neighbourhoods in Rome

Laterano, Colle Oppio, Garbatella and San Lorenzo are the most well-known and friendly gay neighbourhoods in Rome. These districts are located close to the heart of Rome and have always been the main points of interest for the LGBTQ+ community, thanks to the welcoming feeling and to the many LGBTQ+ venues, bars, and clubs in these areas.

Best LGBTQ+ bars in Rome

  1. Coming Out: Rome's most popular LGBTQ+ bar is always packed with people looking to have a good time. They also serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you can stop by at any time.
  2. My Bar: Located next to Coming Out, My Bar has a small dance floor, where local DJs play commercial house music. You can also enjoy karaoke on a daily basis.
  3. Yellow Bar: A gay-friendly cocktail bar that also serves as a hostel. Many locals come here to sip some drinks and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere. The bar hosts DJ sets, karaoke, and also live music.
  4. Glamorize: A gay-friendly bar that hosts a gay-friendly party from 7:00 p.m. every Wednesday evening. People come here to taste their amazing aperitivo and enjoy live music and vibrant entertainment.

LGBTQ+ events in Rome

Here’re the most important events held in the capital every year:

  1. Gay Village: Held from mid-June to September, it’s Rome's most important LGBTQ+ event since 2001. Gay Village is a series of events held throughout the city to combat homophobia. You’ll find bars, restaurants, concerts and cultural events almost every evening during the summer festival.
  2. Gay Pride: Since 1994, gay pride is one of the most awaited and fun events in Rome. Every June, people fill up the streets and walk around the city to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Many of Rome’s gay bars and clubs host special events and parties to keep celebrating until late at night.

LGBTQ+ in Bologna

Bologna is a historic, yet young-at-heart city that’s been a significant part of Italy’s LGTBQ+ history. The city has several organisations which have been raising awareness about inclusion and equality for the LGBTQ+ community since the 70s. There’re also plenty of bars and clubs that are fun and a safe space for the community.

Bologna is the only city where a trans woman — Marcella di Folco — held a position in a public office.

LGBTQ+ friendly neighbourhoods in Bologna

Bologna doesn’t specifically have an LGBTQ neighbourhood. Rather it’s all quite spread out. So here’re some of the LGBTQ+ places that you should know of:

The Cassero LGBT Centre (Il Cassero) in via Don Minzoni is the first-ever centre of protection for homosexuals in Italy.

Marcella di Folco launched a not-for-profit called MIT (Movimento Identità Transessuale) in 1982 in via Polese. MIT has been crucial in fighting against gender-based discrimination.

Piazzetta P. P. Pasolini is an important square as well as it’s named after Pier Paolo Pasolini, a famous movie director who became of symbol of Italy’s LGBTQ community. Right next to it, on via Azzo Gardino is Cinéma Lumière, a theatre that showcases films often ignored by mainstream media and festivals that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

The area of via del Pratello was famous nationwide for being a meeting place in the 70s for those who did not fit ‘labels. Today, it’s home to many gay-friendly bars.

Porta Saragozza is of historical importance as not only did several LGBT events and initiatives take place here but it’s also the starting point of Italy’s National Pride Parade. Nearby, you’ll also find the Villa Cassarini park, which houses the first Italian monument that pays tribute to the persecuted homosexuals during the Nazi regime.

Best LGBTQ+ bars in Bologna

As a young city with plenty of open-minded people and students, the nightlife in the city is exciting! Here’re some places you can visit to experience Bologna’s nightlife:

  1. Red- Bologna’s largest and arguably the most popular gay club. Red is the perfect place to meet local gays or simply enjoy a night of dancing. Besides that, Red also does a lot of other important work in the legal, health, and cultural sector of the LGBTQ community.
  2. Kinki Club- One of the oldest clubs in Bologna and Italy that welcomed gays. Enjoy dancing to music played by international DJs at this central and historic club.
  3. Baratollo bar- Come to this queer bar-cafe for not too expensive drinks and an upbeat night that plays music ranging from local to alternative to mainstream.
  4. Cassero- The centre that raises awareness for and protects the rights of homosexuals turns into a party place by night.

LGBTQ+ events in Bologna

  1. Bologna Pride Festival- This 1-day festival on June 28th welcomes thousands of people to watch the much-fun and entertaining parade. It’s a day to fight for rights and celebrate the progress made so far.
  2. Gender Bender Arts Festival- This event uses films, theatre plays, concerts, visual art, debates, clubbing, and other forms of communication and entertainment to encourage a more inclusive society by showcasing new ways of looking at gender identity, body, and sexual orientation.
  3. Divergenti- This is one of the only film festivals in the world and the only one in Italy to purely focus on trans experiences and history. The sole aim is to give us a better understanding of their hardships and reduce prejudice. The festival lasts 3 days and you can catch several international films, meet and greets, and seminars.

LGBTQ+ in Sicily

Although the south of Italy is not particularly known for being actively gay-friendly, there’re some cities that are worth the mention. Catania and Palermo in Sicily are considered the most gay-friendly cities in the south of Italy.

Other special mentions include Taormina and Troina. In 2020, the municipality of Troina declared itself a gay-friendly city, welcoming LGBTQ+ tourism and promoting the acceptance of sexual minorities without discrimination.

LGBTQ+ friendly neighbourhoods in Sicily

Catania is likely the most gay-friendly city in all of Sicily. This beautiful and romantic gay Catania will woo you with its history, culture, baroque architecture, and tasty food. The neighbourhoods via Alessi, via Etnea, Piazza Roma, Villa Bellini and San Berillo- the red light district, have been historically important for the gay community.

Palermo is becoming more and more gay-friendly and that is why there aren’t specific neighbourhoods that are frequented by the LGBTQ community. But, Monte di Pietá would be a good start, along with the gay-friendly nude beach of Barcarello that’s just outside of Palermo.

Best LGBTQ+ bars in Sicily

To experience the nightlife of gay Catania, head to Nievki — a trattoria and bar that’s been a safe haven for the community since the 70s. For beach parties or cabaret, Le Capannine is a great spot and Buio for a bar experience with locals and tourists.

Palermo is known for its nightlife and some of the places where you can enjoy gay nightlife are Exit Drinks — for a young and mixed crowd, theme parties, and cabaret shows, I Candelai — for live music, DJ, and queer night events such as Pop Shock, or Il Gatto Negro— for music, drinks, and gay social events.

LGBTQ+ events in Sicily

  1. Catania Pride and Palermo Pride- Both pride parades take place in June or July. You can enjoy dance parties, concerts, films, food, drag shows, discussions, and awareness events.
  2. Sicilia Queer Film Fest- The 12th edition of Sicily Queer International Film Fest is taking place from May 30th to June 5th in 2022. During the event, you’ll catch quality, alternative films that represent and raises awareness for the queer community.

Please reach out to if you have any suggestions or inquiries about the content on this page.

Related Articles

Moving to Italy?

Book your rental accommodation from verified landlords in Italy even before relocating. No viewings needed.

Search Now