Slovenia and its beautiful capital make wonder every traveler who has the chance to heard of them. However, beyond the breathtaking Slovenian landscapes and natural attractions, LGBTI people wishing to discover the country have to ask themselves if this little gem of Central Europe would give them a warm welcome.
The country is particularly safe for LGBTI visitors, and especially Ljubljana, which is one of the most welcoming capitals in the area. The law forbids discrimination against LGBT, and lesbian and gay couples now have the right to make a civil union. Ljubljana is especially renowned for housing many LGBT places and events.
Here is a picture of the state of LGBTI rights in the country and a review of all cultural and party places that will make you feel welcome.
Social Opinion and Safety
More than the word of law, the main question for LGBT people visiting a new country is about the inhabitants’ level of tolerance. You can be heartened to learn that Slovenia has mostly a progressive and liberal point of view on this topic.
Indeed, if you visit Ljubljana’s streets, for example, you will probably feel more safe and welcome than in many other cities, which can be really reassuring. The town is florid with numerous LGBTI flags, and you can even notice some pictures of gay and lesbian couples.
You may not have to worry about walking hand in hand with your gay significant other in Ljubljana, but I regrettably advise you to exercise discretion in public places. People are usually very welcoming, and only very few events of intolerance and aggression were identified in the last decade, but it still happens nowadays.
These are isolated acts that do not reflect the opinion of most Slovenians. Still, LGBTI Slovenians say that it remains unsafe to give evidence of homosexuality in the streets: for example, about 60% avoid holding hands in public.
According to the LGBTQ+ Danger Index released by the safe travel blog Asher and Lyric, Slovenia ranks 22 out of 150 countries considering the safety level for LGBTI travelers. The country succeeds in positioning between Germany and Luxembourg, which are known for their liberal perspectives on this topic.
Current LGBTI Rights in Slovenia
LGBTI Rights in the country are improving in Slovenia despite certain reservations on specific fields. In fact, even if the Slovenians rejected by referendum the right of LGB people to marry in 2015, lesbian and gays now have the right to contract a same-sex civil union since 2017.
It grants equal marital rights such as inheritance, next-of-kin, and social security, but it does not constitute a marriage but a simple civil reunion. The same-sex union is yet currently the best option for lesbians and gays as it offers better recognition than the previous “registered couple” status.
We can imagine that this position would evolve positively, as surveys showed that most Slovenians are now mostly in favor of same-sex marriage. However, in terms of adoption, the situation seems quite stuck for lesbian and gay people.
They are denied the right to adopt and even access artificial insemination, which can be a massive issue for lesbian couples and trans people. Slovene LGBTI only can access step-child adoption, and the law does not plan to get more liberal soon.
Nevertheless, some progress has been made throughout the years. Four years only after the independence of the country, in 1995, discrimination against LGBT people was forbidden, and this was set out in the law. It was reassured and expanded in the 2016 Protection Against Discrimination Act, which explicitly mentions sexual orientation and gender identity.
Out LGBT people can then freely access the military and all kinds of employment while being protected by the law.
However, there are still significant improvements to make. The recognition of gender identity remains one of the main negative aspects of Slovenia. The change of legal gender is a right since 2011, but it is conditioned to surgery, which remains highly transphobic.
In other fields, you have to remember that same-sex sexual activity for men is only legal since 1976 in former Yugoslavia. Slovenia shows good evidence of progression, but it is strolling forward slowly.
Ljubljana, A Welcoming And Friendly City
Slovenia is then a mostly open country for LGBT folks, but it lacks national action plans and strategies to support LGBTI issues. Ljubljana appears as an exception in Slovenia, as the Municipality of the capital is pushing forward these topics by developing an LGBT agenda and developing social welfare.
The capital of Slovenia, which also appears to be the most touristic destination in the country, will offer you a great variety of spaces and organizations that will make you feel more welcome than most European cities.
The LGBTI Scene: Bars and Clubs
Gay Ljubljana feels like a dream for LGBT tourists who cannot find hospitable and safe spots to party and meet. It is a small oasis in Central Europe and is unusually vibrant for a population of 300,000 only.
Ljubljana houses few LGBT places, but it is compensated by the numerous lesbian, gay, and trans events that take place in friendly bars and clubs. For instance, K4 Klub is a popular place that hosts specific party nights dedicated to LGBTI people in their sub-branch, Roza Club.
However, if you are looking for dedicated places, the absolute go-to in Ljubljana remains Klub Tiffany, the most popular gay bar in town. Furthermore, it does not just offer cheap drinks and a great atmosphere: it provides an inclusive and safe environment, which is essential and valuable. There, you will also find a fantastic variety of workshops and exhibitions for a more cultural aspect.
If you are looking for a more “during the day” place, Pritličje is made for you. Combining a comic book shop, a bar, a club, and a café, it will necessarily suit you. It is at the same time a concert venue, a cafeteria, and a gallery located next to the city hall open since 2014. Pritličje is the only institution of its kind in the city, so go for it without a doubt!
The most specific Slovene gay spot in terms of bars and clubs in Ljubljana is the lesbian bar called Klub Monokel. Lesbian bars are rare enough to be noticed, so it is a chance for a small city like Ljubljana to have one.
Open on Fridays only, the place occasionally provides specific parties on Saturdays. Like many other LGBT friendly places in Ljubljana, Klub Monokel is located in the Metelkova area, at the meeting point of alternative and lesbian culture. Founded by LL, the lesbian section of SKUC, the Klub now hosts cultural and artistic events such as exhibitions, literary nights, performances, and discussions.
Every year, it also receives events from art festivals like the International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns. If you cross by, you may have the chance to see some Lesbian Vampires event or burlesque performances.
Ljubljana even houses two gay saunas! If you are interested, knock to the ultra-modern District 35. You can spend the whole day here if the high prices do not scare you out. Otherwise, you can try Ljubljana’s gay fitness and spa club, Gymnasivm. It even organizes some LGBTI parties and events throughout the year.
Even if there are too few LGBTI bars and clubs for your taste, you can always rely on the numerous events that take place in the city for the whole year. Having huge events such as art or cinema festival allows us to think that being openly out as an LGBT in Slovenia is easily possible.
According to the following time, the first event of the year is the Red Dawns Festival mentioned before, an art festival organized in Metelkova around March. Quickly follows the Pink Week Festival, traditionally held between the end of March and May. It is a vibrant week of celebrations that contributes to putting the country on the map of LGBTI tourism.
In June, the pride and its parade come, accompanied by numerous other activities since 2009. Finally, at the beginning of December, the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival makes Ljubljana’s pride as it attracts movies and visitors from all around the world.
Do not worry about being left alone during your trip to Slovenia. Many LGBTI organizations in Ljubljana will either assist or entertain you. I recommend taking a look at the Q Cultural Center, a project driven by SKUC, one of Slovenia’s central artistic and cultural organizations, and Klubs Tiffany and Monokel.
You can also find some information alongside The Pride Parade Association, Legebitra, or Out in Slovenia if you are looking for sports buddies.
Outside Ljubljana: Piran and Maribor
Even if Ljubljana is the absolute destination of reference, you will be able to spot some LGBTI signs of life in other cities. Piran and the Adriatic coast mostly offer a meeting place and a gay-friendly beach nearby Piran and Strunjan, while you will only find another LGBT film festival.
To sum up, Slovenia is mostly a tolerant country where you will find way more welcoming people than aggressive ones. Gay Ljubljana is a symbol of the country’s “tolerance” towards LGBTI people, so as a gay, lesbian, trans, or intersex tourist, you will most likely enjoy the capital that will make you feel welcome and appreciated.