As an LGBTQ+ Traveler, Here’s Why I Still Have to Consider My Safety Before Every Vacation

I was just a teenager when I first moved to a country where it was illegal to be gay.

y parents invited my then boyfriend on our family trip to Morocco, and it wasn’t until we were already in the country that we realized that our existence was considered criminal.

We were holding hands in public, not feeling the danger in doing so, and now it frightens me that we were so blissfully unaware.

There is an understanding that Morocco’s strict anti-gay laws are rarely enforced, but a few years ago, in 2016, Two teenage girls were arrested and face jail time When their gay kiss was caught on camera.

LGBTQ+ travelers are faced with this kind of reality – in many countries around the world.

according to Manav Garima Trust71 nations currently criminalize same-sex sexual activity among men, 43 among women, 15 criminalize transgender identity, and 11 provide for the death penalty for those charged.

This is something to consider every time we book a flight for LGBTQ+ passengers, as we may be at immediate risk even if we transit through a country that complies with these laws.

The reality is that a large part of the world is still out of bounds for us. Although it may seem easy to avoid these countries, it becomes difficult when your brother moves to Dubai and wants you to visit; When your best friend is getting her wedding done in Nairobi; When your friendship group has invited you to join them on a cruise around the Caribbean.

On a personal level, it has always been my dream to visit every country in the world, but I am beginning to realize how nave that dream must have been. From a very young age, I was collecting models of pyramids citing Egypt, where I wanted to go more than anywhere; As an adult, I realized that might not be on the cards for me.

It’s not an issue of my personal safety – I can somewhat easily hide my sexuality – and more of a moral dilemma of going and investing money in the economies of countries that actively persecute their LGBTQ+ citizens. .

And not everyone has the privilege to hide their identity. Gay parents traveling with their children, trans people, and people of the non-conforming gender all face difficulties that can make travel impossible.

Luxaria SelesThe one who documents her infection online had to get an official letter from her surgeon after having facial feminization surgery abroad to explain why she might look different from her passport photo.

“Although the letter was absolutely beneficial to my travels, it also left me out of border control, security, and airport staff,” she tells me. “I couldn’t travel through a country where it was illegal to be trans without being detained, and that’s an incredibly insidious idea. Being trans is beautiful but it can cost a lot.”

Although it is unusual for LGBTQ+ tourists to be arrested overseas, it is not entirely unheard of.

For example, the United Arab Emirates has a history of arresting transgender tourists and those deemed to be “cross-dressing”. This includes the arrest of trans women from Singapore and a British man detained for wearing skinny jeans.

there was another Jail sentence for just touching another man’s hip,

The journey can be even more difficult for strange people of color; Where white LGBTQ+ tourists may be turned a blind eye, people from ethnic minority backgrounds may be at greater risk.

right now, Queer Asian TikToker Silovesfrogs Shares Their Experience He travels to Paris with his partner, only to have the trip shortened after “horrific behavior” and met with “ridicule and harassment” on several occasions.

“The worst part of all this is that it was ultimately amazing,” she said in an emotional video voiceover. “Even after living in several progressive areas, I have been harassed for my appearance, my race, my gender. I had visited Paris in Europe before and experienced a ton of anti-Asian rhetoric. ,

She said she was not sharing the experience to cause inconvenience, but just to “warn any openly queer people of color, especially if you’re traveling as a couple, anywhere. To be more vigilant about the dangers of traveling.”

Black LGBTQ+ travel writer Kwin Mosby noted: “I’ve noticed I get profiled and out of line, while my white co-workers glide casually easily.”

Although he also recognizes his privilege as a cis man.

“My counterparts of color – who are black and identify as gay, trans, or non-binary – are more likely to face greater scrutiny when traveling. Its drawbacks to traveling as an LGBTQ+ group or couple Because you have to restrain public displays of affection or be more reserved in places that may not be gay-friendly.”

These concerns for LGBTQ+ travelers are not limited to the legality of the countries we visit. A recent study by shows that 71 percent of LGBTQ+ people have had less than welcoming experiences while traveling.

Even places with a positive legal track record can have cultural differences that can make us a target just by being ourselves. For example, during a recent holiday romance with a guy in Romania, I was told that it was not safe to hold his hand in public; And in Slovenia, I was kicked out of a “gay friendly” nightclub when security saw me kissing another man.

“We don’t do that here,” we were told after parting ways and shown the door.

LGBTQ+ rights exist and are upheld in both of those countries, but official laws don’t always match local people’s perspectives. Even at home in the UK, I get used to the occasional unwanted glance, but when traveling in an unfamiliar place, it can be difficult to ascertain whether those forms may turn violent.

That being said, there are certainly many surprisingly accepting cultures around the world. Countries like South Africa, Mexico and Thailand have made me feel nothing but welcome, and it is always my advice to travel to countries where LGBTQ+ people are accepted in the eyes of the people and the law.

But if, like me, your dream is to visit every country in the world?

Until we see dramatic improvements on a global scale, the sad truth is that we may have to put those dreams on hold.

Callum McSwigan is the author of eat, gay, love,