Advice for LGB&T tourists travelling abroad.
Attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travellers around the world can be very different from those in the UK. However, you’re unlikely to have problems if you prepare well and research your destination before you go.
Where you can find information
- invest in a good guide book – many specialise in advice to LGBT travellers
- online discussion forums, blogs and the LGBT media can also be good resources
- check out the map on the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s website which highlights potentially dangerous regions and countries
- your travel agent or tour operator might have an idea about the local LGBT scene, particularly in the more popular holiday destinations
- the websites of local and regional LGBT groups can often offer the best information and advice on local laws and attitudes
- check the ‘Local laws and customs’ section of our country travel advice page
Advice for LGBT travellers while overseas
- in all circumstances find out about the local laws and customs of the country and area you’re visiting. In some countries, homosexuality and/or homosexual relations are illegal and can be subject to severe penalties
- in countries where homosexual relations are legal, levels of tolerance and acceptance within society may still vary hugely. In some places it may be best for all couples to avoid overt public displays of affection so as not to attract unwanted attention. The section above outlines where you can find country-specific information about this
- even in LGBT friendly countries, take the same precautions you would at home. For example, don’t leave drinks unattended and be wary if you’re offered drinks by a stranger
- if you intend to meet other LGBT people while abroad, find out about the local situation and take sensible precautions if you meet someone. In countries where attitudes to LGBT people are hostile, right-wing groups and police have been known to carry out entrapment campaigns
- if you receive unwelcome attention or unwelcome remarks about your sexuality or gender identity, it’s usually best to ignore them and move to a safe place. Depending on the country or area you’re in, you may then want to report it to the authorities
- depending on the country you’re in, you may be more likely to experience difficulties in rural areas so it’s best to exercise more discretion
- some hotels, especially in rural areas, may refuse bookings from same sex couples – check before you go
What you should do if you have a problem overseas
If you have a problem overseas you can ask the local British Embassy or consulate for help. We won’t make generalisations, assumptions or pass judgement. The support consular staff can provide to all British nationals is set out in our publication ‘Support for British nationals abroad: a guide’
Our staff overseas monitor and record incidents brought to their attention by British nationals about the treatment they have received from host authorities and issues of concern are regularly raised with the relevant body.
Why can’t the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provide a list of countries where same-sex relationships are illegal?
We don’t have a list of countries where same-sex relationships are illegal for a number of reasons:
- same-sex relationships aren’t specifically mentioned in law in many countries, and in others the law is unclear
- same-sex relationships may be legal, but certain acts may not be
- a same-sex relationship may be lawful but local society can be intolerant of open same-sex relationships
- in some countries same-sex relationships are illegal, but the law is not strictly enforced and social attitudes may be relaxed
- a distinction is sometime made in law between men and women
- we can give more precise, detailed and up to date advice in the travel advice pages for individual countries
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) website publishes a set of maps showing places where criminalisation, protection and recognition laws are enacted.
Passport identity of transgender travellers
Transgender travellers sometimes face difficulties or delays at border controls overseas if they present as a different gender to what is stated in their passport.
HM Passport Office offers information and advice for transgender and transsexual customers applying for a passport in an acquired gender.
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association - provides information on gay rights around the world
- International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association - travel advice for gay and lesbian people
- Gay European Tourism Association - travel advice for LGB&T people travelling in Europe
- Equaldex: is a collaborative knowledge base (wiki) that compiles information about LGBT rights by country