With a population of less than 300,000, Ljubljana will never be accused of being a huge city and as such the gay and lesbian scene here isn’t exactly massive. This doesn’t stop it being vibrant and very much alive however. Socially, the Slovenians have a tendency to be a little reserved, but with it’s relatively young population allied with a large number of students, Ljubljana quickly opens up. Slovenia’s laws regarding LGBT rights make it easily the most progressive nation in post-communist Yugoslavia, and in 2015 it became the first Slavic country to allow same-sex marriage.There still remains a divide, with petitions circulating to revert back to the narrow-minded days of yore, but as things stand Slovenia is moving in the right direction.
Ljubljana’s position at the forefront of the gay and lesbian movement in Eastern Europe stretches way back to the Yugoslav days. Homosexual acts were decriminalised here in 1976. The mid 1980s saw the founding ŠKUC’s gay section (called Magnus), which put a rocket on the back of the movement so to speak. This led to the establishment of the Ljubljana Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in 1984, which is actually the oldest gay and lesbian film festival on the continent, as well as a weekly club night at K4 in the centre of Ljubljana.
Magnus would continue to fight for gay and lesbian rights through the 1990s, campaigning for same-sex marriage to be legalised as early as 1992. This fight reached its culmination in 2015 when the definition of marriage in Slovenia was changed to include same-sex couples. Along the way came newsletters, discussion groups, events and Ljubljana’s Pride parade, organised for the first time in 2001 and running annually ever since.
It would still be a stretch however to call Ljubljana a gay-friendly city. The more appropriate term would most likely be gay-ambivalent, with incidents of discrimination and outright violence still not consigned to the past. The outlook is bright however, with Ljubljana (and Slovenia) firmly at the front of the contemporary progressive outlook one expects in the modern age.