This article was published on April 7th, 2019
We aren’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. This isn’t going to be an obvious list of nations to avoid: The LGBT community has known for years to skip countries like Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Syria, most of Saharan Africa, nearly all of the Middle East, parts of Southeast Asia, or places where being executed is punishment for homosexual acts.
There are still 72 countries in the world where same-sex relationships are criminalized. In 45 nations, there are laws prohibiting sexual relationships between two women. And in eight countries today, homosexual acts are punishable by the death penalty and jail time.So, proceed with caution.
This is a list of nations queer people should still avoid, and some might or might not surprise you.
Jamaica. One would think with all that weed and “Every little thing is going to be alighting” done on this Caribbean nation that they’d be happy, hippy, welcoming, and accepting. Except for there is no chill in Jamaica for gay people, as widespread homophobia runs rampant throughout the island and notable LGBT rights figures have been assassinated. Jamaica is deemed by some human rights activists as “the most homophobic country on earth”.
Vietnam. While Vietnam is enjoying new levels of tourism as it opens itself up to the world, this Southeast Asian nation has yet to catch up on queer rights. LGBT households don’t have the same rights as straight households, and discrimination against gay people is not uncommon. Give this country a few years, though, as Hanoi held its first pride recently.
Laos. Laos is another country that isn’t quite there yet but should be off this list in a few years. Because the communist government there doesn’t allow non-government polling to take place, it is hard to gage how accepting this nation is to its LGBT citizens and visitors. While homosexuality is not a crime in Laos, neither is openly discriminating against queer people, either.
Malaysia. It just isn’t cute to be gay in Malaysia. Both sodomy and oral sex are illegal, as well as other homosexual acts. Cross dressing is even against the law. The government has banned queer people from appearing on television, forbade LGBT dignitaries from coming, and warning against bringing their spouses. In 2018, two women were publicly caned for attempting to have consensual lesbian sex in a parked car. Not exactly a beacon of human/queer rights, that Malaysia.
Russia. Vladimir Putin has made overt masculinity, beating women, torturing gays, and the #metoo movement cool againin ol’ mother Russia. Homosexuality and propaganda are now illegal in Russia and punishable by a number of nasty measures.
Sri Lanka. While its massive neighbor to the north India barely hopped off this list by decriminalizing sodomy just last September 2018, Sri Lanka, however, remains in the anti-gay trenches with the rest of the members of this list. 136-year-old anti-sodomy laws from British Colonial times remain on the books today, they do not recognize same-sex couples or marriages at all, and the Sri Lanka queer community remains mostly underground due to police harassment and discrimination. Randomly, however, they do recognize transgender people in some areas, even allowing for therapy and gender reassignment surgeries for some.
Lithuania. The only European Union country on this list, Lithuania is not known for its rainbow flag waving. While a European Union Court has forced it and all member nations to recognize same-sex marriages from other nations, less than 24% of Lithuanians are for gay marriage in their country. Widespread discrimination is common against LGBT people in more rural communities. An anti-LGBT propaganda campaign ran throughout the country for two years, and two-thirds of their government MPs supported it.
Guyana. No longer just known for Jonestown, Guyana has the special honor of being the only country in South America with anti-sodomy laws still a part of their constitution. Two different regional courts that Guyana and neighboring nations belong to have struck down several anti-gay laws, including a ban on cross dressing, that was just overturned in November 2018. As it stands, homosexual acts in Guyana can be punishable by up to a lifetime in prison.
Jordan. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from gay-friendly Israel, Jordan is often seen as one of the more liberal of the Arabic nations in the middle east. While Petra and those temples carved into the side of cliffs are on most traveler’s wish list, “homosexual propaganda” is technically illegal here, so you won’t be finding many queer establishments in Jordan. Discrimination is common and while homosexual acts are legal there, public displays of affection by LGBT people can be prosecuted.
New Guinea. Girl, they were still legally head hunting (like…decapitation, not the other kind SMDH) and practicing cannibalism in New Guinea as late as the 1990s and early 2000s. Why the F%^&* would you wanna go where homosexuality remains illegal? Being gay is illegal and punishable by up to 14 years in prison, so most queer people are forced to remain closeted. New Guinea went as far as telling the United Nations in 2011 that they would not decriminalize homosexuality.
Egypt. Homosexual acts remain legal, randomly, in the land of the pharaohs and Nile river. But the government in place since the 2011 revolution has cracked down on any and all “debaucherous” acts, and anyone can be punished for actions deemed immoral or against the public’s best interests. In the last few years, the government has arrested more than 100 people suspected of being homosexual. In a nation where homosexuality has been documented there for thousands of years, 95% of the citizens of Egypt surveyed in 2013 think homosexuality has no place in society.