With June’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalising same-sex marriage in all 50 states of America. It is not surprising that the travel industry is increasingly targeting the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) market. According to the Out Now Business Class, global LGBT tourism spending will exceed $200 billion this year alone. With the popularity of LGBT travel increasing, here are a few things every LGBT traveller must know before heading abroad, along with smart tips to maximise comfort and safety.
Diligent research is key
A key tip LGBT traveller must know is to conduct plenty of research before travelling in order to identify and avoid any dangerous or hostile environments. Identifying as LGBT is illegal in 37 of Africa’s 54 countries, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. It’s also advisable to find out which hotels welcome LGBT travellers before you make any reservations.
Know the rules
Checking the country government website page will enable you to find out all of the rules and regulations before you travel. Check that the destination is recognised by the IGLTA (The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association) and try to gain an understanding of the political climate of the country you are visiting. It’s important to note, however, that just because the host country has little recognition of LGBT rights at a national level this doesn’t mean LGBT communities are hidden. In Asian cities like Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Seoul, for example, vibrant LGBT communities and businesses are growing.
Seek out support
For a good understanding of the local culture, it’s good to search for local LGBT social and professional groups to connect with fellow expatriates who are in a similar professional and personal situation. Apart from gaining a local perspective, you can ensure your safety through services provided by organisations which educate people on the local immigration laws in destinations that restrict same-sex rights. Intercultural training and security briefings for same sex couples can help support a move.
Stay aware of your surroundings
Knowing which restaurants, clubs, bars and hot spots welcome LGBT visitors can help you to stay safe. Being in the wrong place can put you in a dangerous situation. LGBT traveller must know research about where they want to travel to fully understand the current social issues and places that are safe. Gay dating network sites and apps, like Scruff offer advice for users when they enter a country where homosexual acts and illegal and even punishable by death.
Pay attention to local customs and perspectives
Assimilating to the local customs and perspectives in a new country can be challenging. When travelling to somewhere unfamiliar you should evaluate the environment and ask what behaviour and mannerisms are acceptable. In addition to taking the time to understand local sensitivities it’s important to be comfortable with the environment before you disclose any personal information.