• Christopher Street Day - Cologne
    Christopher Street Day - Cologne ©Köln Tourismus GmbH (Andreas Möltgen)

Gay Culture

Germany's Gay and Lesbian Culture

Germany’s LGBT culture and communities are thriving, and are now an intrinsic part of the lively and friendly atmosphere you can find in many of Germany’s towns and cities. Thanks to progressive legislation and an atmosphere of mutual respect for everyone, Germany is now one of the most progressive countries in Europe for LGBT people to live, work and of course visit too.

There are active gay communities in all of the major cities, and LGBT organisations and groups have also sprung up in smaller towns all across the country.

This of course means that there is a great wealth of activities for LGBT people to enjoy when they come to visit. The variety on offer has something to suit everyone - a wide range of cultural attractions, breathtaking scenic beauty, and the highly organised gay communities enable you to feel right at home, and experience a truly memorable trip - or the most relaxing vacation!

More detailed information can be found on our city pages. Please use the links below.

Gay Germany - From Past to Present

The road to equality for German LGBT people is a long one, that started as far back as the end of the 19th century. As early as 1895, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (the first-known gay activist) supported homosexual rights in his speech on Lawyer's Day in Munich. Magnus Hirschfeld established the first Scientific Institute for Research on Homosexuality in Berlin in 1897; furthermore, the city of Berlin also lays claim to the world's first Gay Museum, which opened in 1985.

In the 1960s huge strides forward were also achieved for the rights of gay and lesbian people in Germany. Homosexuality became no longer punishable by law in East Germany in 1968 and in West Germany in 1969.

More recently, in 2001, a "Life Partnership Law" was introduced by the Federal Government allowing 'registered partnerships' for same-sex couples and giving LGBT people rights and obligations in areas such as inheritance, alimony, health insurance, immigration and name change. Since January 2005 registered same-sex couples are allowed to adopt (stepchild adoption only), and procedures with regard to division of property and alimony have been improved. The debate about same-sex marriage is still on the agenda in the German parliament.

In May 2008, the Memorial to Gays persecuted by the Nazis was opened in Berlin. A concrete slab reminds of the prosecuted gays and lesbians in the Third Reich with a film projection of a never ending scene of a same-sex couple kissing - every two years it will change from men to women or vice versa.