Spartacus International Gay Guide a valuable resource

In 1999 the Guide - the late, great magazine of gay male travel, politics and sex - called gay men “the free radicals of social life” and the world’s most active tourists (sex and otherwise). Even today, when ISIS threatens one hemisphere and the Zika virus threatens the other, gay men continue to travel the globe in search of sex, love and adventure.

For many gay travelers, the Spartacus International Gay Guide is the essential tool. Founded in 1970 by John D. Stamford, the Spartacus Guide is currently published in Berlin by Bruno Gműnder Verlag. Published in book form or as an app, it provides gay travelers with the legal and social status of homosexuality and homosexual people in most of the world’s nations as well as a list of gay bars, hotels, saunas, restaurants, shops, beaches and cruisy areas within each particular country. 

Since 2013 the editorial staff of the Spartacus International Gay Guide has compiled the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, which lists the most and least “homo-friendliest countries worldwide.” The 2016 Index, just released, gives us “the legal situation of gays and lesbians in more than 190 countries.”

It was compiled by the Spartacus editorial team “in regular contact with the German Foreign Office, the foreign embassies in Germany as well as LGBT activists from around the world.” Countries are ranked according to 14 categories, including anti-discrimination legislation, marriage or civil partnership, adoptions allowed, LGBT-marketing, equal age of consent, religious influence, HIV travel restrictions, anti-gay laws, sodomy laws, Pride events banned, hostile locals, prosecutions, murders and death sentences.

Not surprisingly, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Canada are the top three countries on the Travel Index. Equally unsurprisingly, Somalia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates are on the bottom of the list (nos. 194-92). For the record, USA is no. 46 in the Index, below Nepal but above Colombia. (The Index can be found at

In the press release Bruno Gműnder mailed to announce the publication of the 2016 Gay Travel Index, several recent developments are detailed. The recent decision by the United States Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage is mentioned, as well as the fact that “the narrow majority decision of the judges is controversial and is also a subject of dispute in the current presidential election campaign with the Republican candidates.” 

The Maldives, though “a fantastic holiday destination,” is rated no. 171 by the Index, and with good reason: “Here the Sharia law applies and theoretically gay men can be sentenced to death. The Maldives repeatedly presented active opposition, as one of the few countries, to public UN decisions on the recognition of LGBT rights.”

Ironically, Germany, where Spartacus is published, “falls back in the ranking” to no. 17, though still higher than most nations (including the U.S.). “The great political debate on the introduction of marriage between homosexuals in Germany … ultimately led to no political progress. German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains firmly against the expansion of LGBT rights. … It is very possible that other countries such as Switzerland or Portugal (nos. 25 and 19, respectively) pass Germany in the Index ranking.” On the other hand, Nepal went up 50 positions (to no. 44), Puerto Rico 41 positions (to no. 39) and Mozambique 37 positions (to no. 41).

The Spartacus Gay Travel Index includes a separate listing for all 50 American states, ranging from California at no. 1 to Mississippi at no. 50 (again, there are no surprises here). Florida, a popular LGBT destination in spite of itself, is no. 21 on this list, thanks in part to the repeal of this state’s antigay adoption ban. Like the worldwide Index, the U.S. state ratings are likely to change depending on political or legal circumstances. The current wave of “religious freedom” and “transgender bathroom” bills in the various state legislatures are certain to affect their states’ standing in next year’s Index.

For almost half a century, the Spartacus International Gay Guide has served as the Bible of gay travel and tourism. The Spartacus Gay Travel Index is another valuable resource for the LGBT communities around the world and an important tool in our ongoing fight for rights and equality.