© Zürich Tourismus

The cosmopolitan and tolerant city Zurich celebrates a very diverse gay and lesbian scene. Various groups and associations promote the exchange among themselves and take care of the rights and equal rights of the LGBT+ community. Numerous bars, festivals and events stand for the tolerance for same-sex love. An openness that has a long tradition in Zurich.

Practised tolerance in Zurich

A lively lesbian and gay scene has developped in the city of Zurich. But what seems as if it had always been there today was preceded by a decade-long struggle for equality. Surprisingly Switzerland was at the forefront of legal develoment at the same time. The decriminalisation of homosexual acts among adults was enshrined in the Swiss Code of Public Law in 1942 – a novelty in the European context then.

Progressive Switzerland and pioneers of Zurich

It is not surprising that the importance of Switzerland for homosexuals during the Second World War increased constantly. An important role was played by Zurich, where since the beginning of the 20th century the first civil rights movements for LGBT+ rights began (LGBT+ for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other spectra of sexuality). The most important organisation was based in Zurich: “Der Kreis”, which emerged from the ladies’ club Amicitia and was the first gay and lesbian organisation to influence and inspire the entire Western scene between 1943 and 1967. Their clubhouse “Eintracht” was on the site of today’s Neumarkt Theater from 1948 to 1960 . After the dissolution of the organization some members founded the “Club 68”, which later became the Swiss Organisation of Homophiles (SOH). Together with two other organisations, the SOH organized the first Christopher Street Day in Switzerland on the Platzspitz in Zurich in 1978. All three organisations later merged in order to form today’s umbrella organization Pink Cross, which together with the Swiss Lesbian Organisation (LOS) is still committed to the rights of lesbians and gays. In 2014 the turbulent history of the Swiss gay organizations was featured in a movie titled “Der Kreis” that won the Panorama Audience Award at the 64th Berlinale. Incidentally, the two protagonists Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp still live in Zurich today. They are the first couple to register their partnership in the city of Zurich. Since 2007 gay couples have the right to register their partnership legally.

© Zürich Tourismus

Bars, trendy clubs and nightlife

Openness to homosexuals is more than a historical fact in Zurich, it is a living and lived tradition of the city on the Limmat. Zurich still offers countless bars and meeting places for like-minded people – above all in Zurich’s Niederdorf. There you can find the oldest gay bar in Europe, the “Barfüsserbar” where the rainbow flag keeps flying. Even if today there is a more mixed clientele frequenting it, reason being mainly the excellent sushi served.
In “Petra’s Tip Top Bar” men spend a dignified evening listening to pop music, while Les Garçons dance bar, opened in late 2013, features 20s-style Art Deco interiors and a model railway hovering over the heads of bar staff. The “Cranberry Bar” is not only a hotspot for cocktails but also a Zurich institution in the gay scene. Popular meeting places are also the “top dog” and every Wednesday the “Provitreff” in Zurich West, in which the “hero bar” organises parties for an audience that is queer, gay, lesbian, bi and hetero.

Party animals and dancing leilas

At the age of 25, the “Tanzleila” is the oldest party series in the city of Zurich and is still a guarantee for great party nights among women featuring a musical journey from discofox to pop music or techno beats. Equally popular are the formats of the largest gay party organiser Angels, including the “Kitsch Party” with unusual decoration or the “White Party” to which all guests appear in white. Even party formats such as “Offstream”, created in 2004, in which indie, rock, pop and electro sounds dominate – instead of the then popular house music – are popular events with the LGBT+ community. The “Offstream” parties take place in changing locations in Zurich, an aspect that the partygoers highly appreciate.

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Festivals from liberated to cultural

Prime example

Since 1994 not only the Christopher Street Day is celebrated in Zurich every year, but also the Zurich Pride Festival. The barracks area (Kasernenareal) and the Zeughaushof are the venue for an as colorful as the rainbow get-together for several days in June. Various concerts and events campaign against discrimination and promote instead tolerance, openness and dialogue. Committed to this claim the festival is not solely intended for the LGBT+ community, but explicitly addresses heterosexuals as well. www.zurichpridefestival.ch

Pink apple

“Pink Apple” is the name of the gay-and-lesbian film festival where once a year the red carpet is rolled out for films featuring homosexual topics. There is a lot to discover as the program offers a real variety of films for all aficionados – whether heterosexual or homosexual. Documentaries, feature films and short films are shown and even a children’s program is offered, all in a glamourous atmosphere. A selection that leaves no doubt: The apple is not only pink but also crisp. www.pinkapple.ch

Culture in a different way

The “warm May” is a cultural month in which not only culture with homosexual background, but also diversity is a top priority. Cabaret, exhibitions, readings and even a hike make the month of May a “warm may”. www.warmermai.ch

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4,000 different titles, including non-fiction, novels, thrillers, comics and DVDs – the Sihlquai Floodlit Library is the most comprehensive library on male homosexuality in Switzerland and invites you to browse the shelves every Wednesday and Friday from 8 pm to 9.30 pm. Among the books offered are not only recent publications, but also historical rarities and silent eyewitnesses. Some books still have the stamp “Der Kreis” on the inside, which means that they once belonged to the homonymous, internationally reknowned gay movement. The counterpart to the “Schwubliothek” that can be found in the Women’s Center Zurich which manages a considerable body of literature with lesbian themes. www.fraum.ch / www.haz.ch


«The first meeting of the ladies’ club Amicitia in August 1931 was the prelude to the organisation of lesbian women in the city of Zurich. The association founded the journal Friendship Banner in 1932-37 and paved the way for the first steps towards the recognition of homosexual and bisexual people in Switzerland. “This is written on one of the three panels at Zurich’s Brunngasse 15. Short texts here remember the impressive history of homosexuals in the city of Zurich. It is a moving history that sounds unbelievable from today’s point of view – for example, when the reader learns that police ran a register of homosexuals until 1979. At the same time it is also a story of courage and brave people who have fought for their rights. And: Barfüsserbar next door, famous for its sushi specialties, is considered the oldest gay bar in Europe and has gained high profile – also internationally. www.mannschaft.com

Sports Lovers

There are around 70 homosexual rugby teams worldwide. And one of them has its home in Zurich. Since the beginning of 2015 there are the Rascals – the first and so far only gay rugby team in Switzerland. The twelve players have training in Zurich Wiedikon every week. www.gaysport.ch

Different Zurich

“Did Rapunzel climb into Pandoras’ box or rather into the pudding?” And: “Was Tanzleila the woman without a heart?” These and other questions are answered on the Lesbian Walks in Zurich which are organised as part of the “Warm May” and “Pink Apple”. The past and present of lesbian life in and around Zurich is explored during strolls through various city quarters under mottos as “The heyday of lesbian culture – the 1980s and 1990s” and “Lesbians in motion – the 1930s and 1970s”. New discoveries shed a different light on the familiar city and much that was previously hidden is revealed. www.lesbengeschichte.ch

© Zürich Tourismus



At the national level, the Swiss gay organisation Pink Cross and the lesbian organisation LOS Switzerland campaign for gay rights. In Zurich the association Verein Homosexuelle Arbeitsgruppen Zürich HAZ supports gay rights above all. www.pinkcross.ch /
/ www.haz.ch

Gay News, Competitions, Nightlife, Online Store www.gay.ch

News, exchange, parties, shopping for lesbians www.lesbian.ch


Pink Apple Film Festival, Arthouse Cinemas, 29.4. – 7.5.18 www.pinkapple.ch

Warm May, City of Zurich, tba, www.warmermai.ch

White Party Weekend, Club Heaven, Club X-TRA, Alte Kaserne, Kreis 4. – 6.5.18, www.angels.ch

Zurich Pride Festival, Kasernenareal and City Center, 8. – 17.6.18, www.zhpf.ch

Street Parade, Seebecken City Zurich, 11.8.18, www.streetparade.com

Black Party Weekend, Club X-TRA, tba, www.angels.ch

Further information at www.zurich.com

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