Off limits: 15 most unwelcoming countries for LGBTQ travelers

@world_mappers posing in the United Arab Emirates

Here at GayCities, we want to help our community see the wonders of the world while also being true to themselves. Most of the world’s top travel destinations welcome queer folx with open arms, but some places are not as friendly. Nearly 50 countries have prison sentences or physical punishments just for being gay, while others have laws against gender expression, gay sex, or even discussing LGBTQ rights. We want to help you stay safe wherever you go, so…

We’re calling out the 15 most popular travel destinations with anti-LGBTQ+ laws and social attitudes.

Bear in mind, many of these countries’ economies rely on tourism dollars, and we all know the value of having the gays’ business (because everyone wants to be us.) So if this list makes you reconsider travel plans to support a country that supports us instead, great. If you still crave Maldives beaches or Tanzanian safaris, that works too, we just want you to stay safe.

Russia 

Being gay is not technically illegal in Russia, but much of Russian society is homophobic. There are very few protections against discrimination and hate crimes based on sexuality or gender expression. The Russian republic of Chechnya has an especially homophobic culture, with police detaining and torturing LGBTQ people. The region is majority Muslim, and while their authoritative leader denies any human rights abuses, LGBTQ people who have fled the region have spoken out about the atrocities they faced.

Recently, Russia became even more dangerous by declaring war on Ukraine, attacking civilians, and creating a massive refugee crisis. And while it is usually seen as a pretty safe place for LGBTQ people, the war has made Ukraine dangerous for us too. This week, the LGBT Human Rights Nash Mir Center in Kyiv was raided by armed men.

To best support Ukrainian refugees, donate to organizations working on the ground to feed, house, and directly help them. Some of the organizations we recommend are the Ukrainian Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, HIAS, and their Ukrainian partner R2P.

You can also support journalists who report accurate, uncensored stories from the front lines with the Kyiv Independent and more to keep Ukrainian media going. 

Maldives

 

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We’ve all seen the screen-saver-worthy shots of vacation bungalows on the water in the Maldives. These dreamy resorts are popular spots for LGBTQ couples despite the country’s laws against homosexuality. Gay acts or relationships are punishable for up to eight years in prison with possible whippings, house arrest, or deportation. These laws are rarely prosecuted on the hundreds of islands that make up the Maldives, but with a rather homophobic society, LGBTQ people are still the subjects of hate crimes and other human rights violations.

This can make the mainland dangerous, but resorts welcome gay travelers and are usually on private islands. The country’s Sharia laws are not enforced at luxury resorts, for example, alcohol is illegal in the Maldives but is plentiful at resort bars, and the same goes for queers. Within resorts, it’s fine to show affection, but out in public on the mainland even holding hands can be dangerous for LGBTQ couples.