Gay Stockholm: The Local’s guide

It’s the city that gave the world gay icons like Abba and Greta Garbo, so the fact that Stockholm is becoming a favourite destination of gay tourists should be no surprise. Stockholm’s tradition of tolerance and openness means it never developed a gay ghetto, so gay life is integrated into the life of the rest of the city.

While there’s no equivalent of the Marais or Castro in Stockholm, the pretty areas of Gamla Stan and Södermalm have more than their fair share of gay establishments.

Bars and restaurants

Gamla Stan

The queen of Stockholm gay bars is Torget in Gamla Stan. With its chandelier and flock wallpaper, Torget has a glamorously decadent ambience. Kitsch vintage movies play silently on a big screen next to the bar. The weekend crowd is mainly gay men aged 20-50, although earlier in the evenings the decent food draws a mixed bunch.

Nearby is Leijonbaren at the Victory Hotel, which markets itself as ‘gayish’. Truth be told, this tiny but sophisticated bar doesn’t always feel gayer than the next place, but it’s certainly worth popping in for a martini.


Over on Södermalm, basement bar Sidetrack is enjoyably seedy, an atmosphere partly created by the willy-shaped brackets which hold the tables to the walls. Patronised by a mainly middle-aged clientele, this is a beer drinking establishment (although Swedish laws compel it to serve food, which is surprisingly good) and is popular with those planning a visit to nearby Scandinavian Leathermen(SLM – see below).

Many of the most popular haunts for Stockholm’s lesbian crowd are located on Södermalm. One favourite is gay-owned Roxy, a trendy gay-owned bar and restaurant. Also a favourite with the girls is the gay-friendly Pappa Ray Ray & Morfarko, which holds weekly lesbian club night Club Gaysha. On Fridays, the girls (and a fair number of boys) head to Momma on Renstiernagatan for Lezzie Friday, where the city’s best gay female DJs take control of the turntables.


The island of Kungsholmen was once a bit of a gay desert, but not any longer. Leading the gay invasion is Göken, a dinky little bar and restaurant near Fridhemsplan. The handbag-shaped lights in the bar and the flamboyant staff make the place worth a diversion. Göken’s food, while not cheap, is worth the money.

Also on Kungsholmen is one of Stockholm’s summer favourites: Mälarpaviljongen. A lakeside café by day, on a balmy summer evening this place becomes one of Stockholm’s favourite gay bars. A large floating pontoon has extended the bar into Lake Mälaren, where you can knock back a glass of rosé while enjoying superb views of the Summer Night City. Mälarpaviljongen can get very busy when the weather’s fine and the pontoon can only hold a limited number of people, so arrive early to avoid queues.


The Stockholm gay clubbing scene has been in a state of flux in recent years. The dominance of Eurovision pop, or schlager, has weakened somewhat, but those searching for a dose of Boom-bang-a-bang or Alcazar are still spoilt for choice

The upmarket action for lovers of house music is found at Guldrummet at the Ambassadeur club on Fridays and Saturdays. A ‘VIP pass’ is needed to get in, although the club claims that gay tourists are unlikely to be turned away at the door.

If you’re looking for something a bit less snooty, Kolingsborg is a good bet. This idiosyncratic venue, within the Slussen flyover complex , is home to Paradise on Fridays and Libra on Saturdays.

Paradise has three dance floors playing R&B/House, hits and schlager (defined here as any song associated with the Eurovision Song Contest – a favourite genre among the Stockholm boys). The club also hosts frequent drag shows from locals, pros and amateurs. Libra is exclusively house-oriented, and attracts the well-toned shirtless crowd.

For those Stockholmers without a job to go to, Sunday nights are party nights. Nowhere is this more in evidence than on Patricia, a former British lightship. The vessel participated in the Dunkirk evacuations and briefly served as an escort for Britain’s royal yacht, but is now a floating bar and restaurant. Legendary Stockholm drag queen Babsan hosts Stockholm’s longest-running gay club every Sunday. The music is mainly pop and schlager and the night attracts a fun, studenty crowd.

At the other end of the spectrum is the famous fetish club Scandinavian Leather Men (SLM). The strictly men-only SLM is something of an acquired taste, but for those on the scene this place is legendary. Be warned, though, this is a fetish joint and is not for the easily shocked. It also operates a very strict dresscode, so check out the website before you go. SLM is members-only, but you can buy monthly membership on the door for 100 kronor.

For up-to-date information about gay-related venues and events in Stockholm, visit gay website QX,or pick up their monthly magazine in gay venues across the city.

Further information:

Torget , Mälartorget 13, Stockholm. +46 8 20 55 60. Metro: Gamla Stan.

Leijonbaren ,Lilla Nygatan 5, Stockholm. +46 8 506 400 84 Metro: Gamla Stan.

Sidetrack , Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 7, Stockholm. +46 08-641 16 88. Metro: Mariatorget.

Roxy , Nytorget 6, Stockholm. +46 8 640 96 55 Metro: Medborgarplatsen or Skanstull.

Pappa Ray Ray & Morfar Ginko, Swedenborgsgatan 11, Stockholm. + 46 8 6411340. Metro: Mariatorget.

Momma , Renstiernas gata 30, Stockholm. +46 8 640 19 19. Metro: Medborgarplatsen or Skanstull.

Göken , Pontonjärgatan 28, Stockholm +46 8 654 49 28. Metro: Fridhemsplan.

Mälarpaviljongen , Norr Mälarstrand 64, Stockholm.+46 8 650 87 01. Metro: Fridhemsplan.

Ambassadeur , Kungsgatan 18, Stockholm. +46 8 545 07602. Metro: Hötorget or Östermalmstorg.

Paradise , Kolingsborg, Slussen, Gula Gången, Stockholm. +46 8 64 33 946. Metro: Slussen.

Libra , Kolingsborg, Slussen, Gula Gången, Stockholm. [email protected] Metro: Slussen.

Patricia , Stadsgårdskajen 152, Stockholm. +46 8 743 05 70. Metro: Slussen.

SLM, Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 18, Stockholm. +46 8 64 33 100. Metro: Mariatorget.

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Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on Wednesday agreed a draft bill that would compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination in the armed forces between 1955 and 2000.

Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination
A German flag is sewed to the uniform of a Bundeswehr soldier in Dresden. Photo: DPA

Under the proposed law, which needs to be approved by parliament, soldiers
who were convicted by military courts for being gay, demoted or who otherwise
saw their careers damaged because of their sexual orientation, would receive a
“symbolic amount” of €3,000.

“We cannot erase the suffering inflicted upon these people,” Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the RND newspaper group. “But we want
to send a signal” and “turn the page on a dark chapter in the history of the
armed forces”, she said.

The compensation would apply to soldiers from the Bundeswehr, which was
created in West Germany in 1955, and to troops from former East Germany's
National People's Army, founded in 1956.

READ ALSO: More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe

The defence ministry estimates that about 1,000 people would be eligible
for a payout.

Military court judgments against soldiers for engaging in consensual gay sex acts would also be quashed under the draft bill.

It took until 1969 for homosexuality to be decriminalised in West Germany, but discrimination against gay service people continued for much longer, including after Germany was reunified in 1990.

Gay soldiers could expect to be overlooked for promotions or removed from positions of responsibility, with senior officers often deeming them a “security risk” or a bad example to others.

That ended with a law change in 2000 that officially protected gay, lesbian
and bisexual people from discrimination in the armed forces.