Week in travel: Portugal named most LGBT-friendly country

Australia is experiencing the hottest summer on record while planning to connect Sydney and Melbourne with high-speed train, and China opens its first all-weather cross-country ski resort

The annual Spartacus Gay Travel Index, which informs travellers about the situation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders in 197 countries and regions around the world, has revealed interesting results this year.

Portugal has moved from the 27th position to share the first rank with Denmark and Canada — rfranca / Shutterstock
Portugal has moved from the 27th position to share the first rank with Denmark and Canada — rfranca / Shutterstock

Thanks to improvements in law for trans- and intersexuals as well as initiatives against hate crime, Portugal has managed to rise up from the 27th position to share the first rank with Denmark and Canada.  

Another rising star of the year was India. Thanks to the decriminalisation of homosexuality and an improved social climate it has moved up from the 104th to the 57th rank. Great improvements were also reached in Trinidad and Tobago and Angola, where the criminalisation of homosexual acts was abolished in 2018.

With the introduction of marriage for all, Austria and Malta were also able to secure a place among the top ranks in the 2019 Index.

On the other hand, the situation for LGBT individuals in Brazil, Germany and the USA has worsened.

Top LGBT-friendly countries according to the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2019

  1. Canada, Portugal, Sweden
  2. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Reunion Island, Spain, United Kingdom
  3. France, Gibraltar, Greenland, Ireland, Switzerland, Uruguay
  4. Colombia, French Polynesia, Germany, Israel, New Caledonia
  5. Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Slovenia, South Africa
  6. Czech Republic, Estonia, Guam, Puerto Rico
  7. Liechtenstein, Slovakia
  8. Bolivia, Ecuador, Italy  
  9. Mozambique, Nepal, Taiwan
  10. Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Macau, Seychelles, Thailand, US

The complete list is available here.

Australia fights with the hottest summer on record

The temperature is 2.14C above the long-term average — Shutterstock
The temperature is 2.14C above the long-term average — Shutterstock

The Land Down Under has always been famous for unbearably hot weather. Yet it still managed to overcome the standard gates of hell and push it even further this year.

According to the nation’s Bureau of Meteorology, Australia has experienced its hottest summer on record with temperatures 2.14C above the long-term average.

“The real standout was just how widespread and prolonged each heatwave was almost everywhere was affected,” climatologist Blair Trewin told the BBC.

January alone had already been confirmed as the country’s hottest month ever recorded with a mean temperature across the nation of 30.8C, which was 2.9C above the average for January temperatures of 27.9C.

If you plan to travel to Australia, some sort of inflammable sunscreen is a must.

Melbourne to connect with Sydney by high-speed train

While Australia is fighting with the unprecedented summer temperatures, the officials continue to rack their brains about how to improve the country’s infrastructure.

The high-speed train service cut the time from 11 to just three hours — Shutterstock
The high-speed train service cut the time from 11 to just three hours — Shutterstock

Shadow minister for transport, cities and regional development, Anthony Albanese, has come up with an idea how to cut the journey time from Sydney to Melbourne from 11 to just three hours — with a high-speed train service between the two cities.

“It is appalling that it takes longer today to travel by rail to Newcastle from Sydney and the other way around than it did 50 years ago,” he said during an interview with 2HD Newcastle.

“In my view, we should bite the bullet and go for a high-speed rail connection not just through to Sydney but right through to Melbourne and then north to Brisbane.”

Albanese proposed a bill to create a High-Speed Rail Authority that would work on plans for a high-speed rail line.

“The benefits are not just in reducing travel times between Sydney and Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane to under three hours; the big benefit is that this is a decentralisation plan,” he told the parliament.

The east coast corridor between Sydney and Melbourne has been the most commonly suggested connection. With more than nine million passengers flying the route in 2017, it is considered the world’s second busiest.

China opens its first all-weather cross-country ski resort

If the people of China’s Jilin Province feel like cross-country skiing, they don’t have to bother checking the weather. A new Beishan All-weather Cross-country Ski Resort has just opened and is prepared to satisfy their passion in any season.

Many resorts have been built in China as the country gears up for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games — Shutterstock
Many resorts have been built in China as the country gears up for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games — Shutterstock

The new resort is home to a 1,308-meter indoor ski run and a 1,616-meter outdoor ski run that enable Chinese athletes to practice cross-country skiing all year long without seasonal restrictions.

According to Liu Yijun, a snow sports official in the city of Jilin, the resort will soon open to the world, and professional athletes from the Republic of Korea and Japan will use it for training this summer.

He added that the resort will also open facilities including an ice and snow themed park to the public.

The ski resort is one of many snow sports venues under construction in China as the country gears up for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Tinder launches a new spring break mode to find a match in advance

A popular dating app — Tinder — has decided to make meeting new people over spring break trips much easier. The app has launched a mode that allows its university-enrolled users to find a match before they even reach their destination.

“Get on Tinder and look for the spring break card. From there, you can add your spring break destination to see who’s going where. We’ll show you the location your potential matches are headed right on their profiles, so you can match and chat before you pack your bags and go,” the app describes how the mode works.

“And don’t worry, we’re not here to sell you a villa on the beach or unload a surplus of cheese sandwiches — we’re just here to help you find fellow spring breakers while your decision-making skills are still in topnotch form.”