- Tel Aviv, Israel wins first place. “This vibrant city is an undisputed queer capital of the Middle East. It offers a 24/7 non-stop activities, all year round great weather, great food, gay beaches and infinite of gay bars and night clubs. Every June Tel Aviv is celebrating the Gay Pride week, week of celebrations and happenings throughout the city with Pride Expo (Gay Culture Fair), LGBT Theater festival, LGBT Film Festival and the famous Pride Parade which is one of the most colorful gay parades in the world.” reports Wow Travel.
Also notable by WOW travel are:
- Berlin, Germany
- New York City, NY – USA
- San Francisco, CA – USA
- Barcelona, Spain
- Amsterdam, Netherland
- Miami, FL – USA
- Madrid, Spain
- London, U.K.
- Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Toronto, Canada
LGBTQ rights in the United States have made big strides. Same-sex marriage legalized nationwide in the summer of 2015. Even as the U.S. lets down the gaydar, an Orlando gay bar became the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Also in the U.S., questions about transgender rights and gendered bathrooms gripped national political conversations.
In spite of legality, the United States’ relationship with LGBTQ rights are complicated. The same can be said for other countries around the world. It is difficult to comprehend what being an LGBTQ alien in a foreign land is like when life imprisonment and death could punish them for being who they are in more than 70 countries.
The Washington Post published an article about LGBTQ laws and rights around the world, including ten countries where homosexuality may be punishable by death:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Some countries, like Brunei and Chad, have homesexual death penalty laws although they haven’t been exercised in years. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, homosexuality is a felony, punishable by imprisonment, as gays are hunted down by plainclothes policemen and the “Same Sex Prohibition Act” is enforced. LGBTQ persons may not meet or form groups in Nigeria.
Regardless of protective or prohibitive laws, LGBTQ travelers need more awareness about where and how to travel for safety, comfort and political reasons. It is especially important if your company is sending you abroad for business, potentially to a country where your life could be in danger for being you. The United States Department of State website includes an advisory page for LGBTI – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex travelers:
- Research your destination: Use the Department of State’s country-specific page. For every entry, there’s a tab called “Special Laws and Circumstances” where you can find information on travel safety for members of the gay, trans or intersex communities.
- In India, an 1861 colonial-era law outlawed homosexual acts. This decision was overturned in 2009. It reinstated in 2013. The Department of State says, “Prosecution… is rare, but LGBT visitors may wish to avoid drawing attention.”
- You can also find AIDs and HIV restrictions under the “Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements” section.
- Make a decision about your documentation: There are options available to you if you want to protect your identity abroad. They take some advance work and planning. You can update your name on your passport, or apply to change the gender marker on your passport to throw off unwanted scrutiny.
- Have your support system ready: Make it clear through documentation who you want to represent you or care for you if you’re in trouble. These may include health care directives, parentage or custody documentation, and contact information for your family and lawyer.
- Be conscious of your behavior: Avoid risky situations and excessive displays of affection, beware of entrapment, and be especially alert in rural settings.
A crowd sourced website – http://www.equaldex.com/, curates a timeline of LGBTQ rights and news around the world. “No one likes to be labeled, put into boxes or stereotyped,” says Adam Goffman, New York Times bestselling author of “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day!” Goffman is a gay world traveler who publishes on nomadicmatt.com. He invites guest writers to publish travel stories on his forum.
There are plenty of friendly places around the world welcoming your tourism dollars. Choose wisely.