The UK’s Most Sexually Liberal Cities 2024

Back in 2023, in our landmark study on the most sexually liberal world cities, we were surprised to find that London languished in 14th place. How could that be? After all, the UK is seen by much of the world as a bastion of liberal democracy; a country that prides itself on fair play, progressive values and societal acceptance.

Well, according to our latest study, It turns out that London may not be nearly as sexually liberal as it likes to think it is…

Key Findings from the Study:

  • Cardiff is crowned as the most sexually liberal city in the UK
  • Cardiff also outranks all other cities for LGBTQI+ community events and dogging hotspots per capita
  • Liverpool comes top in our rankings for Sex Shops per capita
  • Stoke-on-Trent surprised us all with a top-place ranking for Swingers Clubs per capita.
  • Somewhat less surprising was Brighton ranking top of our leaderboard for Gay Bars per capita.

The Final Results:

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With its vibrant sex-positive scene and progressive attitudes, Cardiff secures its place as the winner of the UK’s Sexually Liberal City Index. The Welsh capital embraces diversity and inclusivity, fostering an environment where people feel free to express their sexuality without fear of judgement or discrimination. From its thriving LGBTQI+ community events (10) to its dogging hotspots (10) and sex shops (9.4), Cardiff stands out as a city that celebrates sexual freedom and embraces the principles of equality and acceptance.

A hub of creativity and enlightenment, Edinburgh also deserves recognition for its appearance on the UK’s Sexually Liberal City Index. The Scottish capital’s rich history, combined with its modern outlook, creates a supportive environment for sexual diversity and expression. What stands out is the number of dogging hotspots (7.2) and sex work organisations (10). Edinburgh welcomes all with open arms, embodying the spirit of sexual liberation, support and freedom.

With its dynamic energy and inclusive spirit, Liverpool emerges as the third standout winner on the UK’s Sexually Liberal City Index. From its iconic Pride celebrations (8) to its diverse range of sex shops (10), Liverpool offers a welcoming space for people to explore new sexualities. With a commitment to equality and social progress, Liverpool embodies the values of sexual freedom and inclusivity, making it a beacon of acceptance in the UK.

What about London? Despite its diverse range of sex-positive venues, London only ranks 10th in our Sexually Liberal City Index. This lower ranking is largely due to stiff competition from other cities, rather than a lack of local options. Notably, London has the highest number of sex workers in the UK (10), underlining its significant role in the nation’s sex-positive scene. The Index itself sends a powerful message of sexual acceptance and tolerance from the UK to the global community, demonstrating that a sex-positive lifestyle is not only possible, but embraced across the country.


In the 21st century, the demand for more sexual freedom may come as a surprise in the supposedly liberal UK. After all, wasn’t there a sexual revolution in the Swinging Sixties? Didn’t sex shops spread across the world in the 1970s and hasn’t the BDSM and fetish scene been an established part of society since the 1980s with the rise of high street provocateurs like Ann Summers? Isn’t the LGBTQI+ community more accepted these days than ever before? That may all be true, but there are still big differences from city to city in the UK when it comes to inclusivity. With this in mind, we  introduce you to the 20 most sexually liberal cities in the UK, ranked according to the results of our detailed research.

Our Approach

In order to achieve reliable results, we have incorporated extensive data from a range of different categories into our list of the most sexually liberal cities in the UK. We looked in detail at each city, and their particular strengths and weaknesses, regarding sexual permissiveness.

This includes the number of sex shops, swingers clubs, gay bars and the number of annual LGBTQI+ events such as gay pride parades, plus candid considerations such as dogging hotspots, sex work organisations and numbers of local sex workers.

We awarded points for each category and the higher the value, the higher the placement in our ranking. As such, some interesting results have emerged. You can find out more about each city in our Top 20 by clicking on the map or in the list.

Why is sexual freedom so important?

In considering this study, of course, the question arises as to why sexual permissiveness is an important value to investigate. Quite simply: sexual permissiveness, also known as sex positivity, is a factor in which the state of development of many areas of society coincides. Because it says a lot about a society in general when minorities such as the LGBTQI community or women are restricted in their development opportunities. Such restrictions can be justified both with so-called traditional values ​​and also with political arguments and ideologies. As the feminist movements of the 20th century have shown, the emancipation of genders or minority orientations is always connected with the acceptance of sexual permissiveness.

Sexual freedom of movement is not a matter of course

One of the most significant milestones in the history of sexual freedom in the UK came in 1967 with the passing of the Sexual Offences Act. This landmark legislation partially decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales, effectively removing legal sanctions against private, consensual homosexual acts between men over the age of 21.

Prior to this legal reform, homosexuality was largely stigmatised and criminalised, leading to widespread discrimination, persecution and social marginalisation of LGBTQ+ people. The decriminalisation of homosexuality was a crucial step towards recognising the rights and dignity of sexual minorities and challenging entrenched prejudices.

However, it wasn’t until 2000 that the age of consent for homosexual acts in England, Wales and Scotland was brought in line with that for heterosexual acts, and lowered to 16. This equality marked another significant step forward for LGBTQI+ rights, reaffirming the principle of equality before the law, regardless of sexual orientation.

The UK has also made progress in recognising and protecting the rights of transgender people. In 2004, the Gender Recognition Act was passed, allowing transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their acquired gender through a formal process. This legislation aimed to address the legal and social challenges faced by transgender people and to promote greater inclusivity and respect for gender diversity.


Curious as to how we calculated these results? Click here to see our full methodology (opens a PDF).

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