(this post was written by a contributor)
The LGBTQIA+ travel market is worth a huge amount of money, but in many parts of the world, there are still safety concerns for queer travellers. More than 70 countries still criminalize homosexuality, including some popular tourist spots like Dubai, Singapore, and Jamaica. Even if it’s legal, there can be a risk of threats, harassment, or even violence. Here are some tips to travel safely and comfortably as a queer human.
Do your homework. Before you book a trip, research what the destination is like for LGBT people. Is
being homosexual legal? Are queer people treated with respect? Will the hotel have a problem if you and a same-sex partner book a double room? There are lots of LGBTQIA+ travel websites that can help you to do this research and make the right decision for you.
Exercise discretion. It’s unpleasant to think about, but in some countries, queer displays of affection can be frowned upon or even dangerous. You might feel like you want to take a stand, but it’s not worth putting yourself in danger.
Observe the local laws and customs. You may have to exercise some discretion when you’re out in public. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, be discreet and get to know someone before revealing your status.
Know your rights. Laws differ between countries, which can make things difficult. For example, in some countries, travelling with condoms can be seen as evidence of sex work.
If you’re travelling with your spouse, it can be a good idea to bring some proof of your relationship status, like a marriage certificate or a copy of your UK spouse visa application. If you have any problems with the authority or need medical attention, it can be hard to assert your spousal rights without proof in some countries.
Go to places that support LGBTQIA+ folks. A lot of hotels, restaurants and resorts don’t just welcome LGBT guests, they actively seek them out. Some hotel chains, like Hilton and Marriott, have micro-sites aimed at queer guests. TAG and IGLTA accredit accommodation that meets certain standards, including training staff on inclusion and LGBT issues.
Homesharing can be a budget-friendly way to travel, but you want to be share that your host is an ally. EBAB and misterb&b both list accommodation that is either LGBT or LGBT-friendly. These hosts can help you to navigate being queer in their local area.
If you book a package tour or a cruise, look for an LGBT-focused operator. You’ll be supporting the community or an ally. Your operator will know the local rules, be able to connect you with others in the community and treat you with respect. There are lots of options, so whether you want a family holiday, a wild trip, or one with a focus on a particular section of the queer community.