The list ranks countries from 0 to 100 percent based on six categories: equality and non-discrimination, family, hate crime and hate speech, legal gender recognition and bodily integrity, civil society space and asylum.

The annual index, compiled since 2009, ranks countries based on how their laws and policies impact on the lives of LGBT+ people.

Darienne Flemington from ILGA-Europe, the organisation which produces the list, said: ‘Consider Rainbow Europe to be your roadmap.

‘We know what is needed and the formula for success is obvious: laws and explicit policies matter. Political leadership also matters.

‘Add to this mix meaningful engagement with communities and civil society and you can make a real difference in the lives of LGBTI people.’

Peter Vella from the Malta Tourism Authority said: ‘The Maltese have a reputation for kindness and excellent hospitality, and this is absolutely reflected in how they welcome all visitors to the island, including the LGBT+ market.

‘Malta holds a unique combination of traditional and historical culture with a contemporary and welcoming mindset towards LGBT+ travellers and our people continue to set an impressive example for other European countries to follow.’

Malta became the first country in Europe to ban so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’ in 2016 and also changed the language used to refer to domestic and family relationships in legal documents, making them gender-neutral.

In 2017, Malta legalised same-sex marriage along with full adoption rights.

In addition, the age at which people can independently request for their gender to be changed in official documents has been lowered from 18 to 16.

Gender-neutral passports were introduced last year.

Malta is not only the best gay friendly destination in Europe, it is also one of the most gay friendly countries in the world.

The island offers a large number of gay-friendly bars, hotels, restaurants and clubs.

For information about the gay scene in Malta and Gozo, consult gaymalta.com – a non-profit website which contains an up-to-date events calendar, news, a listing of currently open Gay Bars/Venues and other tips.

You can also find a wealth of information on Gay Guide Malta.

Best destinations for LGBT+ tourists

  1. Malta (90 per cent)
  2. Belgium (73 per cent)
  3. Luxembourg (70 per cent)
  4. Finland (69 per cent)
  5. Denmark (68 per cent)
  6. Norway (68 per cent)
  7. Portugal (66 per cent)
  8. France (63 per cent)
  9. UK (62 per cent)
  10. Sweden (62 per cent)