It would be great to think that in the year 2019, all corners of the world would by now be equally safe places for LGBT travelers. There are towns and cities all over the world that offer warm welcomes and tolerant communities, regardless of a visitor’s sexual preference or gender identity. But, sadly, there are still plenty of places that don’t.
When it’s time to book your next getaway, you might like to visit one of the world’s more welcoming LGBT hotspots, and there are plenty to choose from. Listed below are some unmissable destinations whatever the time of year you’re traveling, along with a few of the places that it may be best to avoid.
The Spanish Canary Island of Gran Canaria is known the world over for being a must-visit LGBT destination. Not far from the coast of Africa, the island sees hot weather just about every single day of the year, making it perfect for the array of Pride festivals, which happen in all seasons.
Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles are the biggest LGBT hotspots on the island, though the whole destination is known for its tolerant attitude and plethora of gay bars, beaches, and boutiques. Whether you’d like to take a boat trip around the coast to a clothing-optional beach or just unwind with a cocktail and tapas as the sun goes down, you can feel comfortable being open with your identity while you’re here.
Brighton has been a city of refuge for LGBT people for hundreds of years, and it’s been estimated that around fifteen percent of the population here identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual – a high concentration for the UK, where the Census has found that around six percent of the entire population is LGB.
There are bars and restaurants catering to every part of the rainbow in Brighton, from those which are mainly frequented by gay or lesbian customers to those known for embracing a non-binary or transgender crowd. Brighton Pride is the UK’s biggest Pride festival and parade, enticing international superstars to give the headline show.
With a rich history of gay rights activism and said by some to be the gay capital of America, San Francisco is certainly one of the most progressive cities in the US., It’s a destination which offers beautiful scenery and buzzing Pride celebrations alongside bohemian neighbourhoods and an all-round friendly vibe.
The city’s Castro district was one of the first gay neighbourhoods in America, and remains alive to this day with queer-led cinema, LGBTQ-owned businesses and historic monuments to icons like Harvey Milk.
Copenhagen is set to host the world’s largest LGBT event, WorldPride, in 2021. Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex partnerships, and, according to The Lonely Planet, is the most gay-friendly place on earth.
Boasting Europe’s oldest openly gay bar and a thriving fashion scene, there’s plenty to see and do in Copenhagen. In a city whose slogan is “Love of freedom, freedom to love,” you can rest assured that whether you’re exploring Tivoli Gardens or admiring the Queen’s winter residence, it’s safe to be yourself in this laid-back city.
Chile has come a very long way since the oppressive regimes of the 1970s and ’80s, and the capital city of Santiago is now a thriving LGBT destination. With a strong queer culture and a whole host of gay venues and events to enjoy, this is already being lauded as the gay capital of South America.
The Bellavista neighborhood is one of a few particularly welcoming areas, and the nightlife scene offers everything from drag and femme nights to “bear” events for the boys. By day, there are tons of historic sites to visit and parks in which to unwind. Vegetarians and vegans will also be pleased to hear that the city is particularly great for plant-based cuisine.
The options above are just a few of the great places you can travel without fear as an LGBTQ+ person, but it’s worth remembering the places to avoid, too. If you’ve got your heart set on visiting any of the following countries, be prepared to “play it straight,” and consider using a VPN service on your phone to ensure that anything you do online while you’re visiting remains private and doesn’t land you in a tricky situation.
Anti-gay”‘propaganda” laws designed to prevent children and young people from having any access to information about LGBT people have given a feeling of validity to intensely homophobic attitudes across Russia and spurred a wave of violent crimes against the gay community.
This is a dangerous place to be out, and gay travelers wishing to visit Russia should make efforts to conceal their sexuality or gender non-conformity in order to remain safe.
Jamaica may be a popular package holiday destination, but it’s also considered one of the worst places in the world to be gay. Though protesters are calling for the repeal of anti-LGBT laws in the country, violence against the gay community remains high in the country once referred to as “the most homophobic place on earth.”
Another country which pops up on a lot of package holiday hotlists, Egypt still discriminates against the LGBT community, and being out here, despite not being explicitly illegal, can lead to jail time. In 2018, according to Amnesty International, 76 people were detained for “habitual debauchery” because of their sexual orientation.
Same-sex relationships have long been banned in Nigeria, but violence and persecution have been reaching much more shocking levels in recent years. Extortion, blackmail, and police malpractice are all alarmingly common occurrences for LGBT people outed in Nigeria, and while Lagos has plenty of beautiful scenery that is starting to attract more tourists, it certainly isn’t a safe place for queer travelers to go.
Last up, the situation in Brunei is one to be aware of if you’re planning on a backpacking trip in the Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia area. Brunei is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo, known for its beaches and rainforest.
Communities around the world were horrified by a recent change in law that now means people can be stoned to death for being openly LGBT, and many Brunei-owned companies are being boycotted as a result. It’s obvious, then, that this is not a place that LGBT travelers should make a beeline for any time soon.
Tabby Farrar maintains the blog, Just Can’t Settle.