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.
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 :
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
If you’re looking for some gay nightclubs, consider heading to Glitter Club, Gate Party, La Boum, Toilet Club, or One Way.
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.
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.”
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.
Here’re the most important events held in the capital every year:
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.”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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