Destinations and travel companies that have supported diversity and inclusiveness — and governments that have chosen to recognize our relationships and our families — have seen a rise in business from the LGBTQ community, who, like everyone else, want to feel safe and welcome when they travel.
A world of risk
But there are still more than 70 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal. In several countries in the Middle East and Africa, homosexual acts may even carry the death penalty. Within the United State, we’ve seen several “religious freedom” bills at the state level that discriminate against LGBTQ people.
We’re a long way from total equality.
For LGBTQ people with wanderlust, this presents a quandary: Do you only travel to destinations that are known as friendly, or do you venture wherever you want, refusing to allow orientation or gender identity to be a barrier to seeing the world?
How to plan ahead
It’s a personal choice, but no matter where you decide to travel, it’s important to do your homework and be mindful of the laws and culture of the country that you’re visiting. But there are useful tips and resources to help you plan a safe, memorable experience.
For one, use a travel agent experienced in LGBTQ bookings or consider an LGBTQ group tour, so that the guides and hotels are vetted in advance to avoid homophobic incidents. Look for international brands with reputations for diversity and inclusion. Their properties in less-friendly locales can be a safe haven, and in some instances serve as the local LGBTQ meeting point.
You can also visit the U.S. Department of State website, travel.state.gov, and search “LGBT” to find advice for traveling abroad. Stay updated on global rights. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association has an online map of sexual orientation laws worldwide.
LoAnn Halden, Communications Director, IGLTA, [email protected]