It’s hard to think of a better place for LGBTQIA+ students and allies to study abroad than the Czech Republic. The capital city of Prague isn’t just one of the most progressive places in Central Europe when it comes to the queer community. It’s one of the most warm and welcoming cities in Europe.
As one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Prague attracts travelers from around the world for its medieval architecture. That means a lot of its LGBTQIA+ establishments are geared toward tourists. But you don’t have to look too hard to find a large number of cafes and restaurants enjoyed mostly by locals that are flying the rainbow flag. There are many different kinds of cultural events, from film festivals to music performances, on the calendar every week.
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The Czech Republic is considered one of the safest countries in the region. In Prague, there’s very little street crime. You should always be on your guard, just like you would in any big city, but attacks on individuals of the LGBTQIA+ community are not common.
LGBTQIA+ Rights in Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is by far the most accepting of all the countries that were once part of Europe’s Eastern Bloc.. A Pew Research Center polls show that about 80% of people say queer people should have the same rights as everyone else. LGBTQIA+ activists have cited challenges in passing more civil rights legislation. Most Czechs, believe that queer people are already covered under current laws and that they don’t see the need more protections.
The law forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Same-sex relationships are protected, but marriage equality and adoption right for same-sex couples hasn’t yet been passed by the parliament. Trans rights are not as advanced as in most countries in Western Europe, with trans people having to undergo surgery before they can change their gender on official documents.
In Prague, the upscale neighborhood of Vinohrady has a reputation for being particularly welcoming to LGBTQIA+ community. Many queer establishments have opened up in recent years in this largely residential area east of Old Town.
You will also find a few gay-friendly businesses in Old Town itself and in Holešovice, east of Prague Castle.
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Where To Go First
Not far from Wenceslas Square, this cozy café in the New Town proudly shows off its rainbow colors. It’s a great place to learn about the local scene, and has an entire wall covered with posters for upcoming events. It’s the kind of place where you won’t feel weird hanging out on your own, especially if you find a spot by the window and borrow a book from the extensive collection of LGBTQIA+ titles.
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Not far from Old Town Square, Rainbow House is a community center for the LGBTQIA+ people and allies of Prague. It’s a place where “everyone can be themselves, regardless of their orientation and gender identity.” It hosts lectures, discussions, and support groups.
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Where to Eat
With dramatically arched ceilings, the ground floor of Café-Bar Flirt is one of the best spots in the Old Town to fuel up with a cappuccino or an espresso. In summer, they throw open the windows and let the festive atmosphere spill out onto the cobblestone streets.
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In the Old Town, Café-Café has a sleek and stylish interior, but in warm weather you’ll want to snag one of the outdoor tables. It’s a good place for a late breakfast or early lunch. In the afternoon, people stop by for coffee or tea and one of the homemade pastries. The later it gets, the more this place focuses on drinks.
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In the LGBTQIA+ friendly neighborhood of Vinohrady, the Celebrity Café has a sophisticated vibe. It opens early for breakfast and stays open late for dinner. It’s a popular place to fuel up before a night out on the town.
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One of the newest pride celebrations, Prague Pride has been around since 2011. Held in August, it includes a week of LGBTQIA+ events, including concerts, parties, and picnics. One of the most popular destinations is the Pride Village, which takes over Střelecký Island. Another annual event, Prague Bear Summer, takes place at about the same time.
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Mezipatra Queer Film Festival
Screening more than 100 movies with LGBTQIA+ themes, the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival takes place in Prague and Brno and then fans out to other communities across the Czech Republic. It’s intended for “everybody who finds the traditional gender roles too narrow, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” It takes place in November.
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Prague Rainbow Spring
Held in May, this annual sports event has been around for more than two decades. The centerpiece is an indoor volleyball tournament, but it often features other sports as well.