These days, Spain is one of the world's most socially progressive countries - for example, it was the third to legalise same-sex marriage, back in 2005 - and has legal safeguards in place for marriage equality, same-sex adoption rights, and anti-discrimination laws. And its capital, despite being ruled by the rightwing Partido Popular, is in turn is one of the its most progressive, and is home to a community of a vigorous LGBTQ community estimatated at around a half million. The atmosphere is fun, friendly, and relaxed, with a high level of acceptance among the local population. In fact, as far as ten years ago, poll cited 88 percent of Madrideños agreed that homosexuality should be accepted by society (in contrast to just 60 percent in the U.S.).

The central-city Chueca neighbourhood with its two main squares Plaza de Chueca and Plaza Zerolo, is gay ground zero, with a variety of bars, clubs, and gay-friendly restaurants and cafés (you can also take a guided walking tour); next-door Malasaña is a bit straighter but is also home to a number of queer venues including the city's most popular gay men's sauna, Paraíso. Madrid Orgullo (Pride) is held in late June/early July (this year the dates are June 23-July 2) includes one of the Europe's biggest Pride parades along of course with plenty of partying.

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