Copenhagen, Denmark continues to top various lists of the most LGBT-friendly places in the world, thanks to its culture of inclusiveness and tolerance, which is on full display at the annual Copenhagen Pride festival. The event takes place at the City Hall Square, which is renamed Pride Square for the duration for of the event.
History of Copenhagen Pride
Copenhagen Pride began in 1996 when the city was selected as the European Capital of Culture and as a result, hosted the Europride event that year. Europride is an event which is hosted in different European cities that celebrates LGBT pride– with various events throughout the city being organized, culminating in a huge parade and an AIDS memorial vigil.
Every year since, Copenhagen has hosted the city’s gay pride festival in August. In 2014 almost 21,000 people attended the parade, and even more are expected next year.
Copenhagen has long been an LGBT-friendly city. Besides hosting Europride in 1996 and Copenhagen Pride every summer, the city hosted the World Outgames in 2009. The World Outgames is a sporting event, similar in style to the Olympics, that brings together people from all walks of life. The event takes place every four years.
Copenhagen repeatedly been listed as one of the most gay friendly city on many lists. In 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to recognise same-sex partnerships. In 2009, registered gay couples received the right to adopt children, and just a few years down the line, in 2012 gay couples could be married at City Hall and in a church.
In 1948 Denmark saw the establishment of the National Association for Gays and Lesbians (LGBT Denmark) by Axel Axgil, to fight for the rights of gays in the country. Axel and his partner Eigil became the first registered gay couple in 1989, after an engagement of forty years.
Copenhagen is home to Centralhjornet, the world’s longest running openly gay bar that dates back to the 1950s. Additionally, the red-light district of Vesterbro also offers many gay bars such as Oscar Bar Café, Vela (an exclusively Lesbian bar), and Café Intime. Other gay-friendly bars around the city include Masken Bar, Men’s Bar, Never Mind Night Club, and Cosy Bar, which has been in operation for the last twenty-five years.
In addition to bars and restaurants, Copenhagen has many cultural venues that cater to the LGBT community. Warehouse9, for instance, is an art gallery and performance space and Huset KBH is a cultural house that offers concerts, films, theater productions, and spoken word performances.
Gay House is a membership organisation that hosts parties, speaker events, exhibitions, theater and music performances, and various cultural projects. The city also has many gay-friendly boutique accommodations, and the square next to City Hall Square is named Rainbow Square in honour of the fight for LGBT rights.
In addition to Copenhagen Pride, the city hosts a number of events aimed at the LGBT community. For example, AXGIL GayGalla is an annual award show hosted by the Copenhagen Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose is to celebrate people and companies who have made a positive and significant impact in the LGBT community in the previous years: 2015 will mark the seventh show of the event.
MIX Copenhagen is an annual LGBT film festival and is one of the oldest in the world. It is the one of the biggest film festivals in Denmark. Since its inception in 1986 the event was known as Copenhagen Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, but changed its name in 2010. Every year Copenhagen hosts a number of events to mark World AIDS Day– a candlelight vigil, a church service, and a special Christmas concert included.
Freedom to Love
While being a leader among cities that are friendly to the LGBT community, Copenhagen, and Denmark as a whole have also embraced equality. The country generally has a laid-back open-minded attitude toward people of all backgrounds and many citizens, including artists and even politicians, have come out as openly gay without fear of reprisal.
Many people feel homosexuality isn’t even worth a mention; while the unfortunate hate crimes do occur, the police and the community as a whole take those crimes very seriously. The government and politicians take the issues of gay rights seriously and have continued to pass laws ensuring that equality prevails in all corners of the country.
To attest to their continuing support, many of top politicians participate in events and support Copenhagen Pride, among other LGBT events. Where many Western cities can only come to tolerate gays and the LGBT community, Copenhagen, and greater Denmark has come out in the open to embrace them. Copenhagen in particular has always been open, accepting and relaxed in their ways so it’s no surprise that Copenhagen Pride continues to grow year after year.