Life as a queer expat in Germany is pretty freaking awesome compared to when I lived in secret as a queer person in the States. As an American living in Texas with a transgender partner and raising a child together – to say “we did not feel safe” there would be an understatement.
We were always worried we would upset someone for simply existing, and our son might become a victim to hate crimes simply because his father identified as a woman. Our anxiety levels were always high, and we lived in the closet as much as possible to avoid trouble.
So, we embarked on a journey to find a safer and more inclusive place to raise our family. Germany quickly became our beacon of hope. We made the bold decision to uproot our family, say goodbye to everyone we loved, and embrace starting a new chapter as an expat family looking to explore the opportunities Germany offers to queer individuals.
Join me as I delve into the queer-friendly aspects of this remarkable country, exploring topics such as queer marriage, worker’s rights, and transgender acceptance. Be sure to stick around for the top 3 destinations for queer families to visit or to call their new home!
Queer Marriage in Germany
Celebrating love and equality – Germany stands as a pioneer in LGBTQ+ rights, having legalized same-sex marriage in 2017. This monumental milestone opened doors for queer couples, enabling them to legally affirm their commitment and enjoy the same rights and benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. The recognition of queer marriage in Germany represents a significant step forward, fostering a society that embraces diversity and celebrates love in all its forms.
I’ve lived in Germany for 2 years now, and I have had the opportunity to photograph a queer wedding. It was absolutely beautiful to see how much love and support the couple received from everyone there, and how totally normal it was for the two lovely brides to tie the knot.
LBGTQ Workers’ Rights in Germany
While Germany has made significant progress in LGBTQ+ rights, challenges and discrimination persist in the workplace. Legal protections, corporate diversity initiatives, support networks, and advocacy organizations play an important role in combatting discrimination to promote inclusive work environments. You might find yourself wondering what efforts are currently in place to combat discrimination in the workplace against members of the LBQTQ community.
Here’s a brief look at what is currently in place and what is actively being improved upon each day through support networks and advocacy organizations:
Legal Protections and Anti-Discrimination Laws: Germany’s legal framework provides some protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace. The General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, AGG) prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment. This legislation aims to ensure fair treatment and equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Corporate Diversity Initiatives: Many German companies recognize the importance of fostering an inclusive work environment and have implemented diversity initiatives to support LGBTQ+ employees. These initiatives often include employee resource groups, diversity training, and inclusive policies. Some companies even participate in LGBTQ+ events and sponsor pride celebrations, showcasing their commitment to inclusivity.
Challenges and Discrimination: Despite legal protections and corporate efforts, discrimination against queer and transgender individuals still occurs in the German workplace. Instances of bias, prejudice, and harassment can negatively impact job opportunities, career advancement, and overall well-being. Discrimination may manifest as subtle microaggressions or overt acts of intolerance, affecting the professional and personal lives of LGBTQ+ employees.
Support Networks and Advocacy Organizations: To combat discrimination and provide support, various organizations and networks are dedicated to advocating for the rights of queer and transgender individuals in the workplace. Examples include the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes) and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups such as LSVD (Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland) and TransInterQueer e.V. These organizations offer resources, counseling, and legal advice to assist individuals facing discrimination and promote inclusive workplaces.
Promoting Inclusion and Equality: Efforts to promote inclusion and equality in the German workforce are ongoing. Diversity and inclusion training programs are constantly being implemented by more and more companies to raise awareness and educate employees about LGBTQ+ issues. Additionally, networking events, mentorship programs, and career support specifically tailored to LGBTQ+ professionals are becoming more prevalent, providing opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Living as a Transgender Person in Germany
Embracing Authenticity Germany has made commendable strides in recognizing and supporting transgender individuals. The country’s legal framework enables transgender individuals to legally change their gender markers and update their official documents to align with their true identity.
Additionally, Germany provides access to gender-affirming healthcare, including hormone therapy and gender-confirmation surgeries. Transgender individuals can find solace in a society that is progressively embracing their right to live authentically and without discrimination.
Honestly, even in some of the smallest more conservative towns I have been to with a transgender partner, I never felt unsafe. Unfortunately, hate crimes still happen – but they are few and far between compared to the States and other counties. So, where are the best places to live as a queer person or queer family? Drumroll, please…
Top 3 Queer-Friendly Places to Live in Germany
- Berlin: A Vibrant LGBTQ+ Hub Known as the LGBTQ+ capital of Germany, Berlin exudes a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere. The city boasts a thriving queer community, with numerous LGBTQ+-owned businesses, bars, clubs, and cultural events. The annual Christopher Street Day Parade (Berlin Pride) draws a diverse crowd, celebrating the spirit of equality and solidarity. Berlin’s progressive attitudes and welcoming environment make it an ideal destination for queer individuals and families.
- Cologne: A Blend of Tradition and Acceptance Cologne, famous for its stunning cathedral and vibrant carnival, also shines as a queer-friendly city. Its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene encompasses a wide array of bars, clubs, and organizations, creating a vibrant community. The annual Cologne Pride festival is a highlight, attracting visitors from around the world. The city’s warm and accepting atmosphere, coupled with its rich history and traditions, offers a unique blend of culture and LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
- Hamburg: Open-Armed Hospitality Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, embraces diversity with open arms. Its lively St. Georg district, often referred to as the “Gay Village,” offers a plethora of LGBTQ+-friendly establishments, including bars, clubs, and saunas. Hamburg’s annual Pride celebrations bring together people from all walks of life, celebrating unity and equality. The city’s progressive attitude and vibrant LGBTQ+ scene make it an inviting destination for queer individuals and families.
Germany shines as a queer-friendly haven, providing a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ individuals and families. With the legalization of queer marriage, recognition of transgender rights, and the presence of diverse and accepting communities, Germany offers a sense of belonging and inclusivity.
Whether you’re seeking vibrant urban scenes in Berlin, a harmonious blend of tradition and acceptance in Cologne, or the open-armed hospitality of Hamburg, Germany welcomes queer expats with open hearts. Embrace the opportunity to create a new chapter of your life in a country that cherishes diversity and fosters a sense of belonging for all.