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Although Germany is one of the "gayest" countries of Europe, there is also prejudice and hostility here. Violence against gays and foreigners (especially nonwhite) is not unknown. On the other hand, homosexuality is widely accepted by a vast number of the country's millions, especially young people. All major cities have a wide and varied gay and lesbian nightlife. Keep in mind that western Germany is far more gay-friendly than the more isolated outposts of the former East Germany. The legal minimum age for consensual homosexual sex is 18.

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; tel. 954/630-1637; www.iglta.org) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry and offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses; go to its website and click on "Members."

Many agencies offer tours and travel itineraries designed specifically for gay and lesbian travelers. Now, Voyager (tel. 800/255-6951; www.nowvoyager.com) is a well-known San Francisco-based gay-owned and -operated travel service. Olivia Cruises & Resorts (tel. 800/631-6277; www.olivia.com) charters entire resorts and ships for exclusive lesbian vacations and offers smaller group experiences for both gay and lesbian travelers. Gay.com (tel. 415/834-6500; http://daily.gay.com/travel) provides regularly updated information about gay-owned, gay-oriented, and gay-friendly lodging, dining, sightseeing, nightlife, and shopping establishments in every important destination worldwide.

The Canadian website GayTraveler (www.gaytraveler.ca) offers ideas and advice for gay travel all over the world.

The following travel guides are available at many bookstores, or you can order them from any online bookseller: Spartacus International Gay Guide, 38th edition (Bruno Gmünder Verlag; www.spartacusworld.com/gayguide); and the Damron guides (www.damron.com), with separate annual books for gay men and lesbians.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.