LGBT Travel Safety: Best Countries to Visit, Places and Situations to Avoid
Talking About LGBT Travel Safety
The desire to travel the world does not discriminate based on gender identity or sexuality; however, there are places around the world that still are not LGBTQ+ friendly. While we should not have to take special LGBT travel safety tips into consideration when we travel, the fact of the matter is that we do. There are way too many horror stories where we hear about people in our community getting mugged, assaulted, harassed, or even killed for being gay and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The LGBTQ+ community needs to take precautions to keep themselves safe. Consider some of these suggestions while you are planning your next vacation.
Most LGBTQ+ Friendly Countries to Visit
The Williams Institute put out research reports in 2018 that detailed how accepting different countries around the world are of the LGBTQ+ community. Some of the best LGBTQ+ friendly countries to visit include:
Canada is by far one of the friendliest countries in the world towards the LGBTQ+ community. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a fervent supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and equality, and Canada also has its own national pride that started in 2017 and draws thousands of travelers from all over the world. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver all have a fabulous gay scene.
Spain is one of the most socially accepting countries in the world towards the LGBTQ+ community. Madrid is considered the gay capital of Europe and Barcelona is home to the Circuit festival each summer. Ibiza has some of the best gay clubs and beaches in the world and is a blast in the summertime. Spain was also one of the very first countries to legalize same sex marriage.
Holland is very progressive when it comes to social policy, so there is no surprise that the Netherlands is one of the safest places for LGBTQ+ travel. 85% of people in the Netherlands support same-sex marriage and adoption, and gay couples walk together and openly display affection anywhere. Amsterdam is an extremely gay friendly city and has an awesome annual Pride event that features waterway parades
The gay scene in Germany is one of the most fun you will find anywhere, especially in Berlin. While Germany was a little late to the game to legalize gay marriage, the gay party and club scene has been thriving for years with Schoenberg becoming the first gay village in the world. It was established in the 1920s.
This is the second country after France to decriminalize homosexuality all the way back in 1795. Belgium is one of the best places for LGBT travel safety. The country has had many openly gay leaders and their police force is especially trained to handle LGBTQ+ issues, crimes, or attacks. La Demence, a large gay party, is held every month in Brussels and the annual Unicorn Festival is one of the most magnificent LGBTQ+ festivals you will find anywhere.
General LGBT Travel Safety Tips
Regardless of how friendly a country seems to be towards the LGBTQ+ community, it is vital for you to research the laws and customs of the places you are visiting. There are more than 70 countries around the world that have laws restricting sexuality. One of the best ways to find out if the places you are visiting are LGBTQ+ friendly is to check out Equaldex. This site tracks statistics and laws country by country. The National Center for Transgender Equality also features trans specific LGBT travel safety tips.
One great way of staying safe before you travel is to connect with locals. Many of the large tourist cities around the world have social media groups dedicated to LGBTQ+ travel and there are plenty of bloggers and influencers who can vouch for where the safe environments are in some of the hippest and hottest places on earth.
Other tips for LGBT travel safety include:
- If it is legal where you are traveling, carry pepper spray
- Carry a limited amount of cash on you and wear your purse or bag close to your body
- Travel with friends whenever possible and never go out in a place you are unfamiliar with on your own
- Search Yelp and social media to discover specific businesses that are LGBTQ+ friendly
- Know your rights
- Always let someone know your travel plans and where you will be
- Always carry identification on you
- Turn on your GPS location on your cell phone and add your travel buddies to your friend’s tracking through one of many family tracking apps so that you can always find each other
- Never disclose too much personal information to strangers or people you meet while traveling
- Never confront someone who starts to harass you. Move away from the situation as quickly as possible.
- Stay in well-lit public places
- Don’t accept rides from strangers
- Use a buddy check in system if you ever go off alone or with just one other person while on vacation
Tips for Visiting Countries That are Hostile to the LGBTQ+ Community
Just because a country is not LGBTQ+ friendly, does not mean you should not have the opportunity to travel there. However, if you are visiting somewhere that is openly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, there are extra precautions you need to take in addition to those listed above. Make sure to:
- Never admit to or tell anyone that you are gay unless you need to do so for emergency medical reasons
- Avoid outward displays of affection (most countries that are hostile towards the LGBTQ+ community will also have laws against public affection, even for straight couples)
- Make sure that someone always knows your whereabouts
- Never travel anywhere alone under any circumstances
If you want to avoid countries that are hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, some of the places not to travel to include:
Don’t let fear stop you from traveling and seeing the world. There are many places all over the globe that are accepting of and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community, where travel is safe and easy. Use our travel tips to stay safe during your globetrotting adventures and remember to enjoy life and every fabulous experience the world has to offer.