This article was published on March 23rd, 2021
After a torrid year for travellers in 2020, featuring restricted movements in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are gradually reopening their skies to tourists. Even then, it still seems like it will be a choppy year for travel depending on how fast different countries roll out their vaccination programs, making them accessible.
Nevertheless, it’s time to once again hop on those flights and explore your wanderlust (after getting your shots). However, for queer travellers, there are exceptions as to where you can safely tour. While some countries show exceptional hospitality to the LGBTQ community, others provide no haven to them — imposing harsh penalties such as death by stoning.
Therefore, as you book your next getaway, we’ve highlighted some of the best and worst countries to keep in mind for travel post-COVID:
Best countries for LGBTQ travel
The USA ranks highly on the gay map. Besides having some of the most progressive cities in the LGBTQ sphere, it has arguably given rise to the modern-day LGBTQ global movement. It radiates a fun and vibrant gay atmosphere.
Take a walk down the streets of San Francisco, New York, or even Miami Beach, and you are bound to spot plenty of bars, restaurants and even bookstores embellished with rainbow flags.
Gayborhoods are prominent in the US, too, including the likes of New York’s iconic Greenwich Village, West Village, among others. As for Pride events, almost every city hosts one, with the most famous being the New York Pride.
Your gay travel bucket list is not entirely complete if the UK is missing. With an incredibly exuberant gay scene, the UK is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly and welcoming destinations in Europe.
The LGBTQ community is mostly concentrated in the cities of Manchester and Brighton. There are plenty of cruise bars, clubs and hotels to explore as well as gay villages. The UK is also famed for its numerous pride events, top of the list being the Brighton, Manchester Pride, and Cardiff Pride.
Known for its thriving gay scene, Canada is a must-visit destination for any LGBTQ traveller. It plays host to some of the world’s largest pride celebrations, including the Toronto Pride.
It also has some of the best gay villages spread out across Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. The atmosphere in the country’s LGBTQ community is quite welcoming, regardless of where you stay. Rest assured, you will always want to go back in a heartbeat!
Denmark has a rich history of supporting LGBTQ rights. In 1989, it became one of the world’s first countries to legalize same-sex partnerships.
The Lonely Planet recently ranked Denmark as the most gay-friendly place on earth. The country’s capital, Copenhagen, is home to Europe’s oldest openly gay bar.
All eyes will be on this little, charming city as it prepares to host the world’s largest LGBTQ event, WorldPride 2021, in August alongside neighbouring Malmo. The event is set to attract close to half a million people. Copenhagen will also play host to the EuroGames 2021, an LGBTQ sporting competition that involves 29 different events.
All the more reason to book your flight to Denmark early!
Germany is one of the most diverse destinations in Europe. Its capital, Berlin, is also known as the LGBTQ capital of Europe. A tour of the city gives you an eye-opening look at its long history of gay activism.
For those looking to enjoy a night out, the nightlife here is completely unmatched! You’re spoilt for choice by its vast number of gay clubs and bars.
Sitges is undoubtedly the highlight of Spain’s gay scene. Situated approximately 35kn southwest of Barcelona, this picturesque town is popular among gay travellers. It boasts some of the best beaches in Spain.
Don’t be surprised at the number of PDAs you will spot at every turn. It is that open. That aside, do not forget to check out Sitges’ wide range of events, including the wild Sitges Carnival.
Imagine being in a fully gay chartered cruise ship sailing through a group of beautiful islands. Goals, right?
That’s among the many pleasures Tahiti offers. This French Polynesian island is ideal for same-sex couples looking for a romantic getaway or even a wedding. It’s renowned for its black sand beaches surrounded by lush cliffs. Tahitians have an inclusive culture and are very welcoming to the LGBTQ community.
Worst countries for LGBTQ travel
Nigeria ranks as one of the worst places to tour for LGBTQ community members. It imposes harsh penalties on homosexuality which include 14 years’ imprisonment.
Some states in the country go as far as sentencing gay men and women to death by stoning. The country’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2013 prohibits gay marriage and registration of any pro-LGBTQ clubs or societies.
This small nation in the Southeast Asian island of Borneo caused a global stir in 2019 after rolling out draconian Islamic laws, among them; stoning to death for any homosexual acts.
The move sparked an international outcry that prompted Brunei’s Sultan to place the law under a moratorium.
Under the country’s Sharia law, anyone found engaging in acts of homosexuality is liable for up to three years in jail. They could also face flogging or the death penalty.
With the 2022 World Cup beckoning, there have been concerns over Qatar’s conservative stance on the LGBTQ community. Pressure is mounting on the country’s World Cup leadership to stage an “all-inclusive tournament.”
Yemen has a very hostile attitude towards the LGBTQ community. As per its law, unmarried gay men are liable to punishment with 100 whiplashes or one year in prison. On the other hand, married gay men are subject to death by stoning.
The Middle East country has criminalized same-sex relations, imposing a death penalty on anyone found guilty of committing the offence. Punishment could also include flogging or one-year banishment.
Unfortunately, Tanzania is not popular with LGBTQ travellers despite being a world-renowned safari destination. Homosexual acts attract up to 30 years or more in jail. Time and again, authorities have launched crackdowns on the LGBTQ community — subjecting them to harassment, violence, and discrimination.