Ghent has been ranked in the top ten destinations that are most "sexually liberated", adventurous and educated, following research into places that are LGBTQ+ safe.
Of more than 50 destinations analysed around the world by consumer voucher code website My Favourite Voucher Codes, Ghent came in sixth place.
“It is not just a thriving adult industry that makes a destination sex-positive, our research takes into account factors such as how open-minded residents are towards new sexual experiences and how active their sex lives are, as well as rights for the LGBTQ+ community and attitudes towards sex education," charity Julian House, that contributed to My Favourite Voucher Codes' research, wrote in a press release.
"Our research should help those who are looking to broaden their travel experiences safely in new and exciting ways," the statement read.
According to the research, Ghent’s tagline of "more than a one night stay" is "already suggestive of their welcoming attitude, and their diverse LGBTQ+ community and quirky culture makes for a fantastic trip that’s slightly off the beaten track."
When it comes to being an LGBTQ+ safe city, Ghent has taken various initiatives to ensure that it doesn't just provide equal rights "on paper" but that it can also, in practice, be a fully-fledged home for people in this community.
The city decided to make its intentions more concrete by creating an annual "Rainbow action plan" that includes dozens of actions that are taken within multiple domains and focus areas.
As part of this support for the LGBTQ+ community, it decided in 2018 to update the clothing regulations in Ghent swimming pools to ensure trans people can be flexible about what swimming attire they wear, and it has made it possible for people to change their first name in a few days (it usually takes a few months) and allows people to do it for free instead of having to pay the previous €500 fee.
It has also set up a Rainbow network Ghent – a structural consultation of municipal departments, relevant non-profit organisations, the Ghent University, social services and the police, of which all officers have been trained to deal with hate crimes, and which publishes awareness campaigns for reporting hate crimes.