Continental Europe has always been a leader when it comes to gay rights.

Napoleon Bonaparte legalised homosexuality in the many countries he conquered during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and it was only re-criminalised in some of these under Nazi occupation during World War II.

In comparison, Britain only decriminalised homosexuality in 1967 and the job wasn’t finished in the rest of the UK until 1982!

Europe has also been a global pioneer when it comes to recognition of same-sex relationships — seven of the 10 countries that grant same-sex couples marriage rights are European, with others joining that list at a rate of one or two a year.

In the countries of Eastern Europe, progress has been slower. In many, public displays of gay pride remain controversial.

But most of these countries also have vibrant gay club scenes and have laws outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, and there is plenty to interest the gay traveller in the East.

Most European nations now recognise the same-sex relationships of their citizens (and in many cases of travellers as well) including an increasing number in the East — Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia all have civil unions, registered partnerships, or grant same-sex couples de facto status.

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