Traveling with a partner can be a great experience, though it can be rife with complications. For members of the LGBTQ community, travel can be even more intimidating and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.
While the world is indeed becoming increasingly liberal, and attitudes towards homosexuality are becoming more and more accepting, it is a sad truth that there are still many countries where it is taboo.
For travelers from Europe, Canada and the United States, this can come as a shock. While there may be subtle discrimination everywhere, outright hatred and criminalization of homosexuality and gay couples themselves seems primitive. There are countries, however, that you need to be particularly aware of if you’re traveling with your partner.
The Middle East and rural Africa are famously conservative and religious; even heterosexual couples must be on their best behaviour. This website offers a link to countries which still punish homosexual activity. In a select few countries, the death penalty can be applied for homosexual acts: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, U.A.E, Nigeria and Mauritania.
Even if other countries are not as extreme in their reactions, there are many where the attitudes to gay couples are at best, cold and at worst, angry.
Jamaica, often seen as a hedonist paradise, is notoriously unforgiving of same-sex relations. In 2008, a tourist in the Cayman Islands was arrested and detained for kissing his partner in public. In Dominica, a couple aboard a gay cruise were arrested for what the police labelled indecent relations, and other organized LGBT cruises deliberately avoid places like Barbados and Grenada for fear of discrimination. Africa and the Middle East are similarly intolerant; often based in deep-seated religious beliefs, it is difficult to argue against charges based on rights.
That being said, many same-sex couples have indeed traveled to these places without a problem. It is advisable, however, that one thoroughly researches attitudes towards the gay community in a destination country before planning a trip with a same-sex partner.
If you’re planning a trip with your partner, be sure to read this page on the State Department’s website. Don’t be afraid, be aware. Here are a list of other resources that can help you plan a fun, safe, and enjoyable trip.