Out and Abroad: LGBT Study Abroad

This guest post was written by Emma Cramer. Emma is a recent UC Berkeley graduate with a major in Cognitive Science, about to head out into the big, bad world. Ever since studying abroad in Utrecht, Netherlands in 2012, she has been itching to travel more. When she’s not studying or working at Go Overseas, you might find her dancing, browsing Pinterest, or exploring the bay area with friends.

Studying abroad is famed for giving students an opportunity to explore who they are. However, learning about the ins and outs of your personality becomes much more difficult when you study in a culture that is not so accepting of the “outs”. To help you find the most welcoming and rewarding study abroad experiences, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 countries for lesbian students.


1. The Netherlands

Also known as Holland, the Netherlands was a major pioneer in gay rights by being the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2000 and allow gay couples to adopt children. In fact, some of the country’s top politicians are out and Amsterdam boasts a monument in honor of persecuted gays (again, the first country to do so). Clubs, bars, and music festivals are all popular youth activities in Holland.

2. South Africa

Though its “Rainbow Nation” nickname originated as an ode to its multiracial culture, gays and lesbians can also delight in the pun, the tolerant culture, and the colorful national flag. As the only African country with legalized same-sex marriage, South Africa is a fantastic non-European study abroad option for lesbians. The South African lifestyle is quite relaxed, and bars and concerts are common for a night out on the town. At the same time, it is Africa. While South Africa legally protects lesbian travelers and is bar far the best place in Africa to be gay, students need to be aware of the risks.


3. Scandinavia

This group of three countries is so gay-friendly and progressive, we felt they all deserved a coveted spot on the list. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have all legalized same-sex marriage. Young, fun culture (and gay culture) is most prevalent in the big cities: Oslo, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. These countries are known for their hip and modern clubs and bars, as well as local art and culture.

study-abroad-lesbians-24. Spain

Like all the other countries on this list, Spain has approved same-sex marriage, but it also boasts one of the best pride parades in the world. With that in mind, be sure to spend a summer studying in Spain to experience the hoopla! Barcelona, in particular, has a strong gay scene–be sure to check out L’Eixample (nicknamed Gayxample…)! This country is a great option for lesbians who love to party. If you study here, expect parties to last into the wee hours of the morning.

5. Argentina

As the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Argentina’s fun, bustling lifestyle is a great choice for study abroad students. Buenos Aires and Córdoba are both great destinations in Argentina for lesbian students, and they boast a lively club-oriented nightlife, good food, and local cultural spectacles (think tango and music street performances).


Just as in America, countries around the world are slowly but surely being covered by a pretty rainbow blanket, as gays are gaining more and more rights. Honorable mentioned countries include Germany, England, Israel, and Belgium. But there are undoubtedly lagging countries, as well. If you’re more sassy and want to wave your gay card in a place where it might not be as accepted, more power to you, girl!


Have you studied abroad in a gay friendly country? Tell us about it! Submit your story or photo essay here


  1. Brazil is another great place to be if you’re LGBTQIA. While (just like any country) not everyone loves us, it’s generally a very friendly country.

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