Student Advice

New research reveals the most LGBTQ+ friendly UK cities for students

Sarah Jones  · Mar 5th 2024  · 2 min

When it comes to choosing your university, every student wants to ensure they feel safe and appreciated in their new city. Our research looks at the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities for students in the UK.


Once you’ve chosen the university course you’d like to do, it can be difficult to whittle down the universities you’d like to go and see on open days.

To help prospective students understand whether a city is right for them, as well as our ranking of the best universities in the UK, we hope our study into the top LGBTQ+ friendly cities will be useful.

The research analysed six key metrics to evaluate all of the UK cities with a population over 150,000. The study compared the following:

  • The size of the local LGBTQ+ population
  • The incidence rate of recorded LGBTQ+ hate crimes
  • The inclusivity of local mental health services
  • The number of residents interested in LGBTQ+ social groups
  • Review data of the city's LGBTQ+ clubs and bar
  • Search interest in the city's annual Pride event.

Our research revealed that London is the country's most LGBTQ+ friendly city, with a low incidence rate of 0.44 LGBTQ+ hate crimes per 1000 people. London also had the highest score for LGBTQ+ nightlife, which it shares with Brighton and Cardiff, and the second-highest score for search interest in its annual Pride event, Pride in London.

Let's dive into these top spots!

1.London (LGBTQ+ Friendliness Score: 91.29)

London claims the crown for the UK’s most LGBTQ+ friendly city for students, with the fewest recorded LGBTQ+ hate crimes per 1000 people (0.44) and the highest average rating for its LGBTQ+ clubs and bar (4.05/5).

While excelling in many aspects, London scored a less favourable rating for its mental health services, earning 7.77/10, the sixth-lowest score in the study.

2. Brighton (LGBTQ+ Friendliness Score: 67.32)

Brighton secured its spot as the second-most LGBTQ+ friendly city for students with the highest nightlife score (4.05/5) and the most sought-after Pride event. The city hosts the largest LGBTQ+ population in the UK, with 10.73% identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

While Brighton is undoubtedly a vibrant city for the LGBTQ+ community, it did rank lower in safety (26th) and MeetUp interest (40th).

3. Cambridge (LGBTQ+ Friendliness Score: 60.57)

Despite its smaller size, Cambridge earns the title of the UK's third most LGBTQ+ friendly city with an impressive 7.53% LGBTQ+ population and over 34,000 locals interested in LGBTQ+ social groups on MeetUp. Ranking 17th for safety and 33rd for nightlife, Cambridge may be smaller but is undoubtedly mighty in its commitment to inclusivity.

4. Manchester (LGBTQ+ Friendliness Score: 60.57)

Located just south of Chinatown, Manchester’s Gay Village is a thriving hub for nightlife, —living proof that Manchester is one of the leading gay-friendly cities. Coming in 4th place in our ranking, the city scored particularly high for its nightlife (6th), interest in LGBTQ+ social activities (4th) and search interest in local Pride (3rd).

5. Edinburgh (LGBTQ+ Friendliness Score: 60.57)

Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, known for its literary heritage and historic cobbled streets, is also a thriving hub for the LGBTQ+ community. The city has an excellent safety score, with only 0.49 hate crimes per 1000 people, scoring 3rd overall. Despite scoring low for its number of LQBTQ+ social groups (6,700), coming in 19th, Edinburgh's nightlife more than makes up for it with a score of 3.50/5.

Additional insights

Cambridge is the city with the most LQBTQ+ social groups

Cambridge leads the rankings with the highest number of residents expressing interest in LGBTQ+ social groups, followed closely by London and Stoke-on-Trent.

Telford boasts the most inclusive mental health services

Underlining a commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community's mental well-being, residents in Telford and Leeds have rated their local mental health services as the most inclusive.

Brighton has the largest LGBTQ+ Population and the most anticipated Pride event

Brighton and London stand out for having the largest LGBTQ+ populations. Conversely, Aberdeen records the smallest.

The Pride events in Brighton, London and Manchester generate the most online search interest. However, it’s Brighton that comes out on top, with over 27,000 searches on average per month.

Choosing a university is a big decision, and understanding the inclusivity of its city is equally crucial. Our research into key aspects of LGBTQ+ life aims to empower students to make an informed choice about their education and potential new home.

We believe that every student deserves to study in an environment where they can be their authentic selves, and we look forward to helping this year's cohort of prospective students find a place where they can live, learn and belong.

A bit about our methodology

To reveal our findings we created an index looking at six different metrics, focussing on key areas including LGBTQ+ population, LGBTQ+, safety, LGBTQ+ social groups and nightlife, inclusive mental health cities and search interest in local pride events. The 42 prominent cities featured in the study were then measured against the metrics, with a different score awarded depending on the findings. Each score was combined to reveal one final score. The higher the score, the more LGBTQ+ friendly a city was deemed.


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