Is it Safe to Go to…?

Is it safe to go to ... in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineWe’re often asked “is it safe to travel to ________” (fill in the name of any of 76+ countries where homosexuality or gender expression are criminalized or marginalized). There’s no easy answer, so we’ve teamed up with Outright Action International to better frame the question, and provide the perspective and resources for you to find the best answer for yourself.

Homophobic and transphobic violence can happen anywhere.

While it may be more common in places where discriminatory laws and/or hostile attitudes are present, it can still happen in places with equal rights and a large out population. LGBTQ people need to stay alert no matter where they are.

The experience of homo- and transphobia is very local.

In many countries, the level of comfort and security for LGBTQ people varies greatly. Typically, large urban areas are more progressive and rural areas are less so. Even in countries with great LGBTQ legal equality and protection, the culture may remain extremely homo- and transphobic in some areas.

The experience of homo- and transphobia is very personal.

Your race, gender and other factors can greatly impact the way you might be treated. White men are treated differently from women of color all over the globe. Effeminate men, butch women and people of androgynous appearance face greater challenges than people of gender-typical presentation.

As visitors we travel with additional privilege

Tourism is a major economic force in most countries, and LGBTQ visitors are generally spared the harsh penalties that locals are subjected to. It is common to hear of raids where locals are arrested and jailed, while foreigners are more likely to be fined and deported.

Anti-LGBTQ laws are not always enforced

Many countries have anti-LGBTQ laws on the books that they have stopped or virtually stopped enforcing. This is often a stepping stone to decriminalization, but sometimes these laws are still used to harass LGBTQ people.Is it safe to go to ... in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Some countries use “public decency” and other vague laws to harass LGBTQ people

Some places might not have specific laws against homosexuality or gender expression, but will use other general laws in a discriminatory way against gay people.

Situations can change very quickly

Some LGBTQ resources offering country-specific advice are updated regularly, but even the best of these can be out of date. If you have specific concerns, contact a local LGBTQ organization for the most current information. A small donation is a great way to thank them for their assistance.

Your actions can put locals at risk

Visitors, especially tourists, are much less likely than locals to be harassed or arrested, but if you’re interacting with locals, judge the safety and propriety of the situation from their perspective. A public display of affection might get you a dirty look, but could cost a local their job, family or even their life.

You are an ambassador

You can help move the needle if your tourist interactions allow you to show yourself as an LGBTQ person. But broad political statements can hurt the cause. Recognize the difference and use good judgement.

Do the research before you arrive

Protect yourself by doing the research beforehand. You’ll find some great resources in our LGBTQ Travel Safety Guide. Know the situation on the ground before you leave, and keep contact information for emergency assistance with you while you’re away.

Is it safe to go to ... in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

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About Outright Action International

OutRight seeks to advance human rights and opportunities for LGBTIQ people around the world by developing critical partnerships at global, regional, and national levels to build capacity, document violations, advocate for inclusion and equality, and hold leaders accountable for protecting the rights of all LGBTIQ people. Today, we partner with local LGBTIQ organizations across four regions and maintain a cross-regional LGBTIQ initiative at the UN in New York. As an international LGBTIQ organization with a long history of productive and trusting relationships with grassroots LGBTIQ communities worldwide, we serve as a bridge between local communities and high-impact external levers of power.

Click here to support OutRight‘s work around the world.