A cosmopolitan and dynamic city, Geneva has an inclusive, open-door policy. In summer, Geneva Pride floods the streets with its signature carnival atmosphere. Guests at Hotel d’Angleterre can enjoy colourful parades, spectacular costumes and a provocative programme that swings from sobering discussions about acceptance to larger-than-life drag shows. In honour of the event, here we offer an introduction to Geneva’s LGBTQ+ scene.

A diverse and accepting city

Geneva has a rich, varied history. During the 16th century Protestant reformation, when acts of violence were committed against Protestant Christians in France, many fled to Geneva and it became the centre of Calvinism. Fast forward to the Second World War, and Switzerland maintained a neutral approach; the country became known as a safe haven for refugees of all nationalities.

Today a centre of diplomacy, Geneva houses the headquarters of many of the world’s leading international organisations. Located in the Palais des Nations, the United Nations Office Geneva is the second largest in the world, originally built to host the League of Nations between 1929 and 1938. Visitors can take a guided tour of the historic building or learn about inspirational acts of altruism at the International Museum of the Red Cross.

Switzerland’s human rights laws are some of most progressive in the world and Geneva is known for its liberal attitude. The country hosts a yearly Coming Out Day in October, and has done since the mid-1990s, to encourage its younger LGBTQ+ citizens to develop a positive identity. Same-sex sexual relations were legalised in 1942 and same-sex partnerships have been recognised since 2007. Zurich and Geneva are where to find the most developed gay and lesbian scenes in Switzerland, with other major cities such as Basel, Bern, Lucerne, Lausanne and St Gallen close behind.

Geneva Pride 

The annual Geneva Pride flies the flag for the city’s inclusivity. Comprising provocative panels, thoughtful debates, new-wave theatre and controversial exhibitions, as well as a lively flock of parties and fetes, the event celebrates LGBTQ+ culture in all its many forms.

Paying tribute to the forward-thinking pioneers who have paved the way through history, Geneva Pride’s highlight is a momentous march from Palais Wilson to Parc des Bastions on the penultimate day of the festival. Championing values of acceptance, inclusivity and freedom, the event empowers attendees to express their unique selves. It’s a lively street extravaganza of music, wild costumes, rainbow banners and plenty of good cheer.

Enjoying Geneva’s LGBTQ+ scene

When it comes to specifically LGBTQ+ venues, Geneva has a wealth of hip cafés and stylish bars. Meet for a drink at chic Le Phare, which displays local artwork to browse and buy while enjoying a cocktail. Geneva’s best-known LGBTQ+ club, Le Déclic Bar has thrown epic parties, drag shows and burlesque performances since 1988, alongside great DJ sets to get the party really started. For something more refined, enjoy a sophisticated aperitif accompanied by live jazz at Hotel D’Angleterre’s The Leopard Bar, right in the heart of Geneva.