Attitude towards LGBT+ travellers can be very different around the world. While some countries organise multiple prides all over the country, same-sex marriage & adoption are legal and being queer is overall not so bad there, in others you can get imprisoned or even stoned to death for being who you are. It might sound weird to you – especially if you grew up in a more tolerant environment but keep in mind that we only have your best interest in mind.
Since we are members of the LGBT+ community ourselves, we thought we should make a short guide about queer traveling and list some things to look out for, and some things to look forward to for when you go on your trip!
Check the law and attitude towards LGBT+ people
It might be a good idea to do some research about the country you are going to. In some parts of the world LGBT+ visitors are welcome, but that is unfortunately not the case everywhere. There are swarm of places that are not open for queer people. In some African or Caribbean countries it is not safe to be open about your sexual orientation or gender identity; In others, being gay is not punished by law per se, but there is no guarantee of acceptance from the locals- example to that would be Western Europe where acceptance is seemingly growing stronger, but gay-bashing is still an often occurrence.
To avoid any uncomfortable situations and problems you should do some research before going on your trip; you can also message the local LGBT+ organisation if you have any questions, or are looking for advice or information.
There is a very detailed map on sexual orientation laws in the world (you can it with worse quality down below) made by ILGA. ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersexual Association) is a federation of organisations fighting for LGBT+ rights all across the world. Visiting their website may be a good idea before going on a trip!
There is also an amazing website that is often updated called 76 crimes where you can find news about every country and learn about LGBT+ rights in every one. They have a very detailed post with countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same-sex.
A transgender person vs airports
If you happen to be a transgender traveller then you can have some problems with your documents while at the airport or border, especially know, with everything that has been going on, and the growing restlessness and fear. Sometimes customs or border checkpoints assume that your sex, gender identity and gender presentation will match what’s on the ID or passport, but we know that for many of us that’s not always the case. In many countries you can have problems when crossing the border and your explanations may not be valid for people working there. Please keep that in mind while you travel and stay strong. Take any precautions you can and brace yourself because intrusive questions are very likely to happen.
Try not to be too affectionate if you’re unsure
Once you’re on the road, hitchhiking or just exploring another country, try to avoid potentially risky situations. Excessive public display of affection in a country you don’t know the attitude of is not recommended by us, no matter if you and your partner are straight-passing or not.
If you do receive unwelcome remarks and comments it’s best to ignore them, and try to finish the confrontation peacefully. When you’re hitchhiking with your partner and you’re not sure about your driver’s opinion about LGBT+ people we advise not to out yourself; it’s better to stay safe than listen to homophobic/transphobic comments, or worse. It’s something that we are very wary of, and we often find ourselves hiding our sexual identity, or shrugging off uncomfortable questions with humor. It sounds terrible when we put it this way, but not everyone is an open person, and sometimes it really is better to stay safe than sorry.
Also, in some cities it’s safe to be queer in so-called “gay neighbourhoods” but outside of them not so much, so please keep that in mind.
Travelling as a HIV-positive person
When you’re a person that is HIV positive then you should check if the country you plan on visiting has any restrictions. In some countries there are entry bans (ex. Brunei) or restrictions when it comes to short (ex. Tunisia and Taiwan) and long (ex. Australia and Canada) term stay. You don’t want to get in trouble about things like this while travelling so better check it beforehand!
Now that we finished talking about all the precautions you might need to take, let’s talk about the fun stuff!
Check if there are any Prides or other queer events
Before planning your trip you can check if there are any pride marches at the time. Those events are an amazing opportunity to party and spend your time feeling proud about who you are! Also check for other LGBT+ events! Maybe there is a queer film festival or some workshops, exhibitions or else?
You can also check if there are any queer attractions or neighbourhoods in the place you’re staying in; maybe you fancy to see some LGBT+ murals, or drink a beer and meet the locals in a gay bar.
Meet up with queer locals
Getting to know LGBT+ people living in a place where you want to go may be a lot of fun! Not only will you be able to meet new, amazing people but also you can get to know more about gay culture and gay community in their country/city!
They may be very informative and helpful, and will probably recommend you some nice gay-friendly bars, clubs, nighbourhoods or events. You can also learn a lot from them about queer rights in their country.
For people with bigger budgets
Queer people are spending tons of money on travelling every year and there are some companies that take advantage of that. You can find more and more travel agencies that focus on gay travellers. Why it is better to use them, not regular ones? They know where is it safe to go, they partner with gay-friendly hotels or resorts and tour operators, they also often offer practical advice and support. There are also gay cruises in many countries.
They are a great alternative for all with a bit bigger budgets that want to make sure they will be welcomed in their hotel and no one will be making big eyes when they ask for one double bed.
LGBT+ travel can be amazing and fun, but it can also be pretty dangerous. Please, remember to do any necessary research about the country you are going to, keep an eye out for any potential danger, but also for any potential fun! Stay safe and have a lovely trip! ❤