For the LGBTI community, Slovenia is not as famous of a destination around its borders. Even then, there is a growing gay scene and LGBTI acceptance culture in this beautiful country. The country’s gorgeous green mountainsides, serene lakes, and architecturally rich capital of Ljubljana offer a reprieve for LGBTI tourists in Slovenia.
Slovenia and especially Ljubljana is friendly and open to all visitors. Members of the gay and lesbian community are welcome guests here, and all the services that Slovenia offers to its guests are available to you. Its history of acceptance of members of the LGBTI goes as far back as its move away from Yugoslavia.
Is Slovenia an excellent place for LGBTI tourists? A quick look at how they stand up for LGBT rights reveals the country to be a perfect getaway for gay and lesbian travelers alike. Here’s everything you need to know before you get there.
Looking At The History of LGBT Rights In Slovenia
Before we look at Slovenia as a premier LGBTI destination, we need to first understand the challenges people experienced. As part of the original republic of Yugoslavia, Slovenia wasn’t always a place that gays can visit.
During the period of inclusion in Yugoslavia, the socialist republic outlawed same-sex relationships. Before 1976, the Penal Code of 30 June 1959 provided that “unnatural impurity between males” was a criminal act punishable by imprisonment for up to one year.
This ruling was curious, considering the letter of the act. The loophole means it doesn’t prevent female same-sex relationships, but only because the republic doesn’t recognize the act.
Even before the communist republic of Yugoslavia, wartime understanding of behavior around gays and lesbians was iffy at best.
Homosexuality In Communist Yugoslavia
Milovan Djilas gives a hint about the relations with homosexuals among the partisans in his war memoirs. In one paragraph of his memoir, “Revolutionary War,” Djilas describes how homosexuals were expelled from the Communist Party for their sexuality.
In the memoirs of Rifat Burdžević, the secretary of the Sanjak Committee of the CPY, he once told Djilas that the Serbian battalion soldiers had revealed to him that he was “a Muslim, a good soldier and a zealous communist… and a homosexual”.
Burdzevic, as expected, was hesitant and confused, wondering if he should execute the person. He then concluded that proletarians also suffer from such vices. He believed that bourgeois decadents and similar vultures cannot function or be members of the party.
The man confided in Burdžević, crying, and told him that, as a poor boy, he was corrupted by a failed escape. The man was ordered to leave the party, but Burdžević also discreetly informed the headquarters to watch over the person, whom he eventually found out was a brave soldier who fell bravely too.”
For Djilas, homosexuality is a “vice” that cannot and must not be tolerated either in the party or among the partisan movement leaders. However, the homosexual was still allowed to remain in the partisans and “fall bravely.”
This opens space for the assumption that due to the difficult circumstances of the war, the partisan leaders were somewhat more tolerant of homosexual soldiers, but were intransigent within the party.
The Acceptance of Homosexuality in Slovenia
The legal status of homosexuals changed in the mid-1970s, following the 1974 constitutional changes. With the reform of the legislation and the transfer of the federal leadership powers to the republican and provincial ones, the joint criminal law of the SFRY was abolished.
Slovenia was the first to discuss the decriminalization of homosexuality. Ljubo Bavcon, a law professor at the Faculty of Ljubljana, on behalf of the Commission for the Adoption of the Criminal Code of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, called for the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1974.
The Croatian Medical Chamber removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1973. With the new Criminal Code of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, which entered into force in 1977, the Socialist Republic of Croatia decriminalized the homosexual relationship of compliant adult men.
However, liberalization of attitudes towards the LGBT population in the SFRY was most felt in the cultural field, especially in Yugoslav cinema.
After Tito’s death, the eighties are a sign of the unique Yugoslav “tolerance of the socialist system” towards the culture of all generations and genres. Some historians note the happiness associated with growing up with great names in literature, film, and theater.
For example, Genet, Cocteau, Foucault, Mann, Fassbinder, Warhol. Almodovar was translated and distributed regardless of homosexual content.
By around the 1980s, the atmosphere was certainly more relaxed: bisexuality and homosexuality were slowly being written about. Much of the psyche of “the gay” were scrutinized, with science and psychoanalysis being invoked.
In the mid-1980s, in a kind of decadence of cultural offer and production in the SFRY, the conditions for historical events were met: the first gay club was opened in Ljubljana, and the first “Gayzine” began to appear, a photo of a gay couple appeared on the Zagreb Polet website.
LGBTI in Slovenia Now
LGBTI people from all walks of life now receive wide acceptance within Slovenian society. While there are still dissidents against the practice, as is anywhere else globally, Slovenia has become more comfortable and friendly towards the LGBT community.
The lesbian and gay movement has been active in Ljubljana since 1984. When Magnus, a gay department at ŠKUC (Student Cultural and Artistic Center, Ljubljana ), was established as a “Cultural Organization for the Socialization of Homosexuality.”
The pro-lesbian feminist group Lilit, which began operating in 1985, in 1987 as LL, was a lesbian group within the ŠKUC. In 1990, Magnus and LL founded the national lesbian and gay campaign organization Pink Club.
The organized LGBT movement in Slovenia began in the 1980s, specifically in 1984. The first inaugural meeting of the Magnus section took place in December. The design of the section followed the April Magnus Festival “Homosexuality and Culture”.
The festival itself included several thematic LGBT events, from the opening of an exhibition of the homosexual press to video screenings of films.
In the former Yugoslavia, too, an essential part of the LGBT association was the then club scene. Every Saturday night, the then FV disco transformed into the Magnus Gay Club, which was the only organized social life of gays in socialist countries.
Magnus was mostly made up of gays, so a year later the feminist initiative Lilit was formed. The lesbian section LL was formed in 1987, which became independent a year later and came to life under the ŠKUC forum’s auspices.
Over the years, the organizations have left a strong mark in the cultural and literary fields, as well as in raising awareness of HIV prevention, social life, and initiatives for association in safe spaces, as well as addressing political decision-makers and experts through various campaigns.
The Best Destinations for LGBTI Tourists In Slovenia
The best destinations in Slovenia for LGBTI tourists are Ljubljana, Maribor, and the big cities. Many of these locales are progressive enough to understand the unique circumstances of LGBTI tourists and treat them with respect and dignity.
If you’re part of the LGBT community and unsure where to go, the best option is always going for big cities and towns. While there is no data in small villages, bigger cities and towns will have enough facilities to accommodate your needs.
Ljubljana is a city of open, tolerant, and friendly people, where everyone can find a place for themselves. It is a place where people generally respect diversity and people live together in harmony.
Many of the people within Slovenian’s capital value tolerance and respect for diversity. The people here believe that mutual differences enrich their lives and do not separate them from tourists, regardless of culture, language, race, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.
Ljubljana has proven time and again that their people are tolerant, having already organized numerous pride parades in Ljubljana. The City of Ljubljana also offers diverse support for the development, organization, and quality implementation of projects and programs for the LGBTI community.
At the same time, non-governmental organizations help influence the change of the broader social attitude to same-sex orientation. Ljubljana supports various public events related to this topic.
Night Life and Recreation for LGBTI in Ljubljana
The Ljubljana LGBT scene has been flourishing since the mid-1980s and has stayed lively ever since. Permanent space spaces for gay socializing, lesbians, transgender and bisexuals complement the regular annual events organized by different groups.
Ljubljana’s club events are lively, as its pulse is determined by a relatively young population and many students. The club scene that the city offers is not very large for the LGBT population, but it is diverse.
There are a few cafes, bars, and clubs in Ljubljana that are gay and lesbian-friendly, where LGBTI tourists can relax and have fun in good company. In addition to the legendary club, K4, which is famous for the so-called pink evenings, are the most current venues.
Places like lesbian Club Monokel and gay Club Tiffany are available in the alternative cultural center Metelkova mesto. Lesbian club Monokel is intended for socializing and promoting lesbian culture and lifestyles.
The gay club Tiffany regularly hosts parties, art events, exhibitions, debate-film evenings, literary readings, round tables, etc. The Q Cultural Center also operates on the club’s premises which is dedicated to artistic creation, creativity, and cultural projects.
Ljubljana and the LGBT community’s common interest is to live in the city center with new gay, lesbian, bi-, and transgender-friendly people and spaces with extended many different activities.
The Gymnasivm sauna is the only club in Ljubljana as well in Slovenia, which is intended only for male visitors. It offers guests socializing and getting to know each other in the afternoon and the evening.
Above all, Ljubljana’s events are still marked with the commitment and creativity of activists which are organized in several societies, non-governmental organizations, and sections of the ŠKUC Association.
Together with significant events, the film festival mentions including the annual Pride Parade at the streets of Ljubljana (June) and the Red Dawn Art Festival at Metelkova (March).
Slovenia Pride Parade
The Pride Parade is the most massive sociopolitical and, at the same time a cultural and entertainment LGBT event in Slovenia. It is one of the most resonant and recognizable events organized by the very active gay and lesbian community in Slovenia.
The Pride Parade Society has been organizing the Pride Parade in Ljubljana since 2009. In recent years, it has developed into a cultural and political festival of international proportions.
The Pride Parade Festival is a festival of LGBTIQ + culture with a distinct political note. It ends with the annual Pride Parade, which is a protest march through Ljubljana.
The event concludes with a public presentation of the political demands of the LGBTIQ + community in Slovenia in relation to the holders of social power, institutions, and the wider society.
The parade itself is a public event aimed at breaking the silence, rebellion against pushing homosexuality between four walls, occupying public space, presenting the life and work of the LGBTIQ + community, promoting human rights, equal opportunities, and freedom of choice.
Before the parade, there is also the Pride Parade Festival. The festival takes place in the last weeks before the Pride Parade. It takes place in Ljubljana, combining and presenting the cultural production of the LGBTIQ + community at the national and international level.
The festival strives to open up silent and invisible topics within the LGBTIQ + community while establishing a critical attitude towards social structures and their inactivity and ignorance of existing discrimination.
The parade itself offers several events, depending on the time of the year. For 2020, the Pride Parade took the form of 10 smaller rallies Due to the anti-crowd restrictions on the gathering. In the previous years, there was one contiguous rally, with several events days before.
Even then, many of the events start almost the same every year. The participants set off on a hike from Metelkova, and individual groups follow towards building a rainbow of colors as they move. The parade then firns a rainbow at the finish line, Republic Square, which symbolizes the LGBTIQ+ community.
The Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
The Gay and Lesbian Film Festival has been held in December for many years in Ljubljana and one of the best events you’d want to visit in the locale. The LGBT Film Festival has been held in Ljubljana since 1984, is the oldest film festival of its kind in Europe.
The festival is organized by the ŠKUC Association in the Slovenian Cinematheque and at accompanying locations throughout Slovenia. The non-heterosexual and non – gender- themed film festival takes place for a good week in November or December.
The first Magnus festival, titled Homosexuality and Culture, took place from 23 to 29 April 1984 in Ljubljana. It was named after Magnus Hirschfeld, the founder of the Scientific and Humanitarian Committee or the Institute for Sexual Research. The venues were Galerija Škuc, KinoŠkuc, Faculty of Arts, and Disco FV.
The preparation of the first Magnus Festival was the primary task of the gay section Magnus pri Škucu, which was established as a cultural organization for the socialization of homosexuality in 1984.
In the beginning, the Magnus section was closely connected with the alternative scene in Slovenia. Since the founding of the Pink Club as a political organization, Magnus has focused on organizing cultural activities.
Since 1984, the festival has been held continuously every year. The exception was 1987 when the fourth Magnus Festival was canceled due to political pressures based on a reference to the risk of international gay gatherings due to the AIDS outbreak, despite the program being prepared.
The festival has repeatedly faced a lack of funding. In 1996, the organizers of the festival unsuccessfully applied to the Ministry of Culture for permission to screen films without subtitles because the translation costs for a non-commercial festival would be too much of a financial burden.
Since 1994, the festival’s main location has been either the Kinodvor (from 2004 to 2008) or the Slovenian Cinematheque. Since 2004, the festival has been held every year at least one other accompanying location outside the Slovenian capital.
In 2013, the best films began to be awarded with pink dragons, and the following year, the festival was given its current name. Before that, the festival’s last name was the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
In 2017, it was one of the accompanying locations of the festival for the first time outside the borders of the Republic of Slovenia. Two screenings were held at the Ariston Cinema in Trieste.
In 2018, the festival received financial support from the Slovenian Film Center for the first time. The festival jury that judged the feature films was international for the first time too. The first Slovenian professional gay film, Consequences, was shown at the opening of the festival in Kinodvor.
In 2020, the festival was held online due to measures against the spread of the new coronavirus disease. They screened 18 feature and documentary films and 17 short films free of charge. Due to the epidemic, the international jury did not meet; they only awarded the Pink Dragon for best film of the audience’s choice.
At the end of May, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual community from all over the world and your friends can enjoy the beauties of Slovenia, get to know the cuisine, local customs, and traditions, and have fun.
The rich program of the Pink Week festival includes a visit to selected Slovenian destinations, pampering in wellness, a visit to the wine cellars, and much more.
The annual Pink Week celebration is a crucial part of pulling LGBTI tourists in Slovenia. It plays a crucial role in transforming Slovenia among the leading LGBT+ destinations in Europe. It has created a palatable package that has helped put Slovenian LGBT+ tourism offering on the map.
The official Pink Week Slovenia takes place somewhere between May every year. It offers a combination of travel packages that follow a special theme. The package changes every year, making sure that tourists always experience something new.
In 2018, for example, the theme followed ‘Hidden Corners of Slovenia.’ Participants of the Pink Week visited Lipica, the enchanting country of Lipizzan horses. They went on to taste the gastronomic delights of Slovenia and Ljubljana. They also went on to dine in special locations and meet extraordinary people within the community.
Pink Week is going around and unveiling several new LGBT+ travel packages for tourists. Their events are generally designed to promote LGBT+ friendly experiences. At the same time, they offer access to Slovenia’s most exclusive tourism attractions.
More Places To Go In Ljubljana
The largest gay and lesbian community in Slovenia is in Ljubljana. As we noted, several clubs and cafes in the city offer a safe space for the LGBTI community.
Ground Floor, Club K4, Club Tiffany are among the most famous, but also popular gathering places are various restaurants, selected saunas, and the like. Maribor is also a great place in summer. There’s also a popular gathering place in Piran and on the beach between Piran and Strunjan.
Most parties and much of the nightlife take place in Ljubljana at the weekend. The climax is reached every Friday night when partygoers of all ages occupy trendy nightclubs and clubs.
Even some quiet day bars can become lively party spaces with DJs in the evening. An excellent starting point and gathering place is ČinČin, in the former Tobacco Factory.
There’s also the slightly withdrawn hipster club Božidar, and the Ground Floor and Central Station in the city center. For many, the latter two remain the only stop on the party route.
LGBTI tourists in Slovenia looking for weekend entertainment are most often interested in relaxed socializing and new acquaintances. Music is not of primary importance in this case, so bars and larger clubs that offer a vast range of popular music are an easy choice. It’s fun and full at the Circus Club and Shooters Bar.
You will find space for the most comprehensive insight into Ljubljana’s alternative culture at Metelkova. From the largest squatter’s area in the city, Metelkova has developed into one of the most famous centers of independent artistic events in Europe in a few years.
Many clubs, which come to life only around midnight, are a guarantee for parties that last until the early morning. LGBTQI tourists in Slovenia will find these places buzzing with different people from various walks of life.
You’ll find many interesting concerts of all possible genres, evenings of local and guest DJs, and some of the best LGBTQ clubs with affordable drink prices. These attract many guests who relax in good weather and socialize even in the square in front of the clubs. Metelkova is a unique experience for all visitors to Ljubljana.
Tips For LGBTI Tourists In Slovenia
Slovenia is a relatively small country compared to most of Europe, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t many things to do. For LGBTI tourists, you can be sure that outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, cross-country skiing, and cycling are safe and enjoyable.
Getting around is straightforward in Slovenia, mostly via public transport within cities and car rentals around the countryside. The roads are quiet and in superb condition, letting you cover much of the country within a week to 10 days.
For those who have time to spare, you can even go to other Balkan regions, but you won’t miss anything if you don’t. The sheer variety of places you can go gives you so many choices, from plains to mountains to forests and everything in between.
If you don’t have that much time, you’d still want to see other parts of the country apart from Ljubljana, so there are a couple of options. You can go on an organized tour and tour groups available online.
You can also try the public bus network, which has several trips all over the country. You can use the bus network during your time in Slovenia, and it’s reliable enough if you’re daring to try. Always use the official Slovenian bus network website to keep your route planned.
Once you’ve arrived at the town you want to explore, you almost don’t need to use public transport. Even in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, you’ll manage to find yourself around on foot, with everything only a few kilometers from each other. For those who don’t want to walk, there are city buses available in most places.
You have to keep in mind, however, that smaller, rural towns and villages can be more conservative than big cities. While hate crime is very unlikely, you would want to observe local norms.
LGBTI tourists in Slovenia will find the country to be a beautiful, wonderful place. It is a growing destination for those who want to party at night while absorbing some green in the morning.
Slovenia is a magical country that has changed a lot. Its acceptance of the LGBTI community is something you will be proud of. The openness and diversity of the people are something you can admire. While it may be smaller than most cities, it’s an adventurous new world waiting for you.
What do you plan on seeing in Slovenia? Talk to us now, and let’s see how we can help. Whether you’re looking to wine and dine, party outside, or go on nature trips, you can be sure that there is something for you in Slovenia.