This article was published on December 9th, 2018
The world is becoming more gay friendly. Individuals, families, communities, corporations, governments, and countries are opening their arms to the LGBT community. There have been great strides across the world with more countries legalizing same-sex marriage. Recently, India decriminalized homosexuality, which is now the same for more than half of the global population. There still is a long way to go, but the tide sure has turned. When it comes to global travel, it is important to know about the gay rights and laws for countries you are, or are planning to visit. You should know if you can play it safe, or travel anywhere.
The easiest place to start is by going to any country where gay marriage is legalized. Public opinion is on your side, and although you can face bigotry anywhere, these are the safest and easiest places to travel. The great news is you can travel to a lot of beautiful and interesting places all while enjoying the protection of the law. There are currently 23 countries where marriage is legal, and 12 where civil unions are possible.
On the other hand, there are still countries where homosexuality comes with the death penalty. Most of them are countries you wouldn’t put on the top of your bucket list right now anyhow, but it does show that parts of Africa and the Middle East do have a long way to go. This still leaves areas of the world where it’s illegal, but not really punished, or where it’s decriminalized but not protected.
To pick where to go you can start by researching the destination you want to visit. If you can easily find gay bars/pubs/hotels/restaurants, it should be okay. If the gay scene is visible you can rest assured it is probably largely overlooked. The gay dollar does speak. Being a tourist in a lot of places can guarantee your safety. If your research does not turn up many results, the community could be more underground.
Think of this like your religious relative’s house. There is no holding hands, but if you respect their beliefs you can still go to dinner. An example would be Dubai. If you stay at an international hotel chain, go ahead and share a bed, but when you go out in public you’ll have to act like you are ‘just friends’. Going temporarily back into the closet may not be ideal, but you can see a lot more of the world by hiding your sexuality.
This is true of a great deal of countries where it is illegal, but largely overlooked. In Dubai there are also gay dance nights that rotate between different night clubs. You can ask the gay waiter or someone on a gay geo-location connection app where it will be that night. If you decide to do a side trip to Abu Dhabi or any of the other Emirates they take their homosexuality laws more seriously.
Ultimately, it’s up to you where you travel. You can travel anywhere provided you take the proper precautions. If there is a destination on your bucket list, you can go there and be safe, but you may have to hide an important aspect of who you are. It’s up to you whether that’s worth it.