Felicity Long
Felicity Long

If Madrid isn't on your list when considering LGBT-friendly cities in Europe for your clients, it should be.

In fact, Spain's capital has been advocating for LGBT rights for the last 40 years, quietly at first then kicking into high gear in the 1990s with festive and widely supported Pride parades and the development of neighborhoods like Chueca, the hot spot for the city's gay-friendly nightlife.

Spain was one of the first countries in Europe to recognize same-sex marriage, in 2005, and in 2007 the city hosted EuroPride, a key international LGBT event.

Next June, the city will mark the 40th anniversary of its first Pride parade by hosting World Pride 2017, a global event that has previously taken place in Rome, Jerusalem, London and Toronto.

The 10-day celebration will include an international human rights conference, an international culture festival and the Pride parade.

Concurrently, the city will again host EuroPride, and the combined events are expected to draw more than two million international visitors.

To help get the word out, Madrid Destino and World Pride will be exhibitors this November at World Travel Market (WTM) London, which every year offers an LGBT Village exhibition space hosted by Out Now Business Class, a travel trade association geared toward helping businesses attract LGBT business.

"Madrid enjoys a well-earned reputation as a welcoming destination that embraces diversity, and the city's annual Madrid Pride has become a true must-see event on the global LGBT tourism calendar," said Out Now CEO Ian Johnson. He added that the conference's LGBT Village, which is marking its sixth consecutive year, connects some 1,000 global tourism industry professionals geared toward serving the LGBT community.

Organizers of World Pride will take advantage of their presence at WTM London to promote next year's event, according to Manuel Santiago, marketing and promotion coordinator of World Pride Madrid 2017 from Madrid Destino, who added: "We are pleased to welcome as many LGBT people as possible to join us in Madrid to celebrate in our city for World Pride, and right through 2017."

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