Despite a Russian law outlawing the 'promotion' of homosexuality to minors, St Petersburg remains a generally safe place for gay travellers. Hotels are normally problem-free about two men or two women sharing rooms, and while discretion is the safest policy on the streets, there is a thriving gay scene that's worth exploring.

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While St Petersburg is liberal by Russian standards, it is still far behind the rest of Europe. It should be no problem at all to book a double room for same-sex couples, although outside top-end hotels you can expect some curiosity from staff. Same-sex public displays of affection are never a good idea, however: always err on the side of caution.

Sadly, homophobia has been steadily growing, stoked by first a local, then a national law prohibiting 'gay propaganda'. While having few legal ramifications for most people, this has unleashed some latent homophobia in a country where so-called 'non-traditional orientations' were previously little discussed and thus largely ignored.

There is a busy and growing gay scene, but it remains fairly discreet. Gay pride marches are routinely attacked by far right groups and the police often harass protesters. Coming Out ( is the site of a St Petersburg–based support organisation.

A few other useful links: The English version of this site includes club listings and tour guides, plus information on gay history and culture in Russia. An active site for lesbian issues; Russian only. The local gay and lesbian portal; Russian only.