This article was published on February 16th, 2020
With recent news coming out of Indonesia that the once-frequented-by-numerous-LGBT people and gay couples, Bali would be cracking down on queer couples and tourists, a heightened level of scrutiny of all gay-friendly tourist destinations is being placed on the popular island gaycation hotspot and featured locations around the world.
LGBT people are being warned not to venture to Indonesia in the interim, as these laws are being debated by their government. What makes a destination safe for gay travelers and what designates it as “gay-friendly,” versus tolerant or not at all? Here are some tips and advice on things you should look for when selecting a gay-couples travel destination for a romantic couples getaway or destination wedding.
Do. Your. Research. The way a country or place handles its minority populations is often indicative of how gay-friendly—or not—a location really is. War-torn regions or countries with little regard to general human life are a no-go. A simple Google search will tell you which countries homosexuality is still a crime in. The last thing you want is to be another Locked Up Abroad case, so avoid countries with anti-gay legislation on the books.
Most gay-friendly places have resources like websites and social media pages to list what accommodations and establishments that cater towards gay people. Some places do it old school and still have hard-copy booklets or pamphlets. If you’re already there, head to your nearest gay bar or restaurant and ask for the weekly paper or newsletter.
Does your desired location have a gayborhood? These areas of cities are often more advanced, cleaner, safer, and more progressive than their surrounding areas. These places are also often better equipped for queer travellers. It is suspicious when large metropolitan areas don’t have a gay area or pink stomping grounds and might be better for you to avoid.
Stick to the roads most traveled. Ask your gay friends and co-workers where they have successfully ventured as queer tourists with the pink dollar. Check out the most popular gay-friendly destinations and start checking them off your bucket list first.
Travel with groups. Travel groups with insane itineraries aren’t for everyone, but there is definitely safety in numbers. Pre-organized tours and group travel allow for security and make for great gaycations if you’re ok sharing your trip with multiple people. While there are pros and cons, one being that it’s hard to break away and do your own thing on a trip, the advantages to traveling with a team versus travelling solo often outweigh the negatives.
When in doubt, consider an alternative. Croatia, for instance, offers little to LGBT travelers in terms of information provided. While not un-friendly to gays, Croatia has few gay bars and gathering places, no Google maps accuracy, and limited resources available. You’ll either have to take your chances with connecting with other queers through the gay geo-location apps or take your chances on what information you have. If you’re still unsure of venturing to a locale with little information available, perhaps it’s time to consider another destination.