7 Dangerous Places for LGBT People worth Visiting
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As LGBT people, we face unique challenges while traveling. Whether it’s the simple awkward look we get when checking into a hotel as a same-sex couple or more serious cases of personal safety, these are concerns our community must be aware of and plan for when visiting new places.

David and I are advocates for traveling and we encourage people to challenge themselves. There are many wonderful places around the world to visit, but all too often people limit themselves based on fears and concerns. Though we don’t expect our readers to put themselves in danger, we do want to encourage you to think twice about visiting places you might not have considered before.

The biggest challenge we face in these scenarios is whether or not we want to risk our personal safety in order to travel to a place that’s not gay-friendly or just plain dangerous for gays. So just to get you thinking, we’ve come up with this list of the top 7 places to visit that might just be worth taking the risk.

Russia

Russia stretches over a gigantic terrain of Asia and Europe, and it is the biggest country on the planet. Visitors will experience remarkable museums, history, culture and its well-preserved wilderness, quite possibly leaving you with a yearning to discover more. Cities like Moscow, Saint Petersburg or Volgograd (once recognized as Stalingrad where the final combat of World War II was settled) are great starting points.

Russia Gay Travel

Credit: photo by Kasya / CC BY

 

However, we all know that LGBT people in Russia encounter legal and societal challenges. Even though same-sex activity among consenting adults in private was legalized in 1993, same-sex couples are not entitled to legal protections and even worse, the government has recently introduced a series of laws prohibiting “gay propaganda” – more or less making it illegal to say anything pro-gay in public.

Jordan

Jordan is located in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Israel. Besides its Jewish neighbor state, it’s not exactly located in a gay-friendly region. In recent years, Jordan has been beefing up its tourism offering and is investing a lot in eco-tourism to promote its unique landscapes and natural beauty. A visit to Jordan might include places like Amman City, the Dead Sea or Petra.

Not surprisingly, LGBT people in Jordan don’t have legal rights but same-sex activity among consenting adults is not actually illegal and it’s been this way since the 1950’s. Though it’s important to point out that it’s not culturally acceptable and gays in Jordan still live in the closet due to the social pressures.

Kenya

Kenya is a beautiful country with countless natural attractions. Some places of interest might include the Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya, the wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara and the beaches alongside the Indian Ocean. But aside from all these beautiful locations most of tourists are enticed by the wildlife safaris.

Homosexuality in Kenya is considered taboo and against cultural values. It’s officially illegal to be gay and the state penalizes same-sex sexual acts as a crime. Though various human rights organizations are working to defend LGBT rights in Kenya, it is simply not a place where it’s safe to be gay.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s history is captivating and it’s actually one of the oldest nations in the world. The first indication of humanity started here dating back tens of thousands of years. Ethiopia is an exotic place to visit and there are plenty of reasons to go including volcanic lakes, tribal safaris and historic churches and mosques.

Ethiopia gay travel

Kayaking in one of the many crater lakes of Debre Zeit, Ethiopia

 

LGBT rights are not acknowledged in Ethiopia and all homosexual acts are considered as sexual offenses by the Ethiopian law. And like most of its African neighbors, there is simply zero public acceptance or tolerance of homosexuality in the country.

Egypt

Egypt needs little introduction and is a favorite destination among travelers from around the world. This region of pyramids and incredible deserts and dunes is renowned for its cultural and architectural treasures. Homosexuality is illegal in Egypt and the government continues to make international headlines for shutting down offenders like the recent raid of a gay nightclub in Cairo. Same-sex relationships, even between consenting adults are considered criminal acts in Egypt and punishable by law.

Morocco

Morocco is located in Northern Africa and within close proximity to Europe, with just 14 kilometers separating this Arab country from the Spanish mainland. It is one of the most diverse countries in Africa, with towering mountains, sweeping deserts, rocky coastline and the zigzag of alleyways of primordial medina towns and souks.

marrakech gay travel

Enjoying some freshly squeezed OJ in Marrakech

 

A same-sex relationship in Morocco is against customary Islamic values, conventional gender roles and is most definitely stigmatized. The LGBT community risks arrest in addition to verbal and possible physical brutality but it should be noted that foreigners are tolerated more, especially with so many Europeans visiting each year.

Tanzania

Tanzania exhibits a number of wildlife sanctuaries and reserves only comparable to its neighbor Kenya. This destination boasts of spotless coral reefs in addition to some of the most magnificent landscapes in Africa. Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is another popular attraction.

Homosexuality is unlawful in Tanzania and is punished by jail sentence. It’s regarded as a taboo subject and most Tanzanian people view being gay as a foreign and very un-African behavior.

Would you visit any of these countries? If so, which interests you the most? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image credit: Photo by Bruno / CC BY

28 Comments on “7 Dangerous Places for LGBT People worth Visiting”

  1. stefanarestis says:

    I totally agree and hope to cover all of these countries on day- particularly Egypt.

    I guess it just goes that wee bit further down the bucket list when you know they’ve got serious homophobic issues.

  2. Gene Walton says:

    gay people should not be encouraged to travel to places in countries that foster potentially dangerous for the LGBT community. Yes, all these countries would be interesting to visit but not interesting enough to possibly wind up in a jail or worse. This was not a responsible article. Finally, if you think that the State Department will be of help in extricating someone from a dangerous incident or situation, think again.
    These countries should not be visited by the LGBT community.
    Gene Walton, Miami

    1. Auston Matta says:

      Hi Gene. Sorry you feel that way. I definitely understand your viewpoint. In this regard we’ll have to agree to disagree. We’ve traveled to many of these countries before and have been perfectly safe. It’s up to each individual to be informed and make the decision. Thanks for reading and thanks for your feedback.

  3. Nelson Isaac Baez says:

    We all dream of traveling the world and being exposed to new cultural, but it is sad to know that we can not be in certain countries as a proud LGBT. Egypt is one I would love to visit and Mrocco. It is good to know and understand why we must be careful if ever going or even crossing to places like these. Great work. Like the blog.

    1. Auston Matta says:

      Thanks so much. Hope you keep reading :-)

  4. Sam says:

    I travelled in Syria, Jordan and Egypt without Zab a few years ago and had no real problems…but then I wasn’t obviously in a same-sex relationship, and indeed was travelling for much of the time with a female friend, and of course most people assumed we were married. If Zab and I were to travel to any of these countries together, I would certainly sooner go to Jordan, Egypt or Morocco than Russia.

    1. Stefan says:

      People just thought we were brothers in Russia.

      1. Auston Matta says:

        lol. we’ve had that before too.

    2. Auston Matta says:

      yep. though i have a feeling Russia is getting more bad press simply because their russia. I mean, I recognize that there are LGBT issues there but Russia is really the only one getting all the attention. I think US and European media really focuses on that.

  5. Paul R says:

    I was in Egypt a few years ago (2012, I think) on a gay tour, and it was pretty obvious to everyone we were gay—too many of us and too much of a range in ages to be mistaken for brothers! Had zero problems.

    I traveled solo in Turkey a few years before that, and everyone there seemed to think that every American traveling alone is gay. No problems there either. Stayed at Eklektik House (after staying in a business hotel for work), which is Istanbul’s first gay B&B and was absolutely fantastic. Trying to decide where to go after I hit Greece in May…I only got a one-way ticket, so I’m open to suggestions!

    1. Auston Matta says:

      Wow so surprised you found a gay tour to Egypt! That’s cool.

  6. Steven says:

    My partner and I have traveled as a couple to several places on this list, including Jordan and Tanzania, with no issues. Sure, we’ve not engaged in public displays of affection, but we’ve also never hesitated to book a room with a king bed or present ourselves as a couple when checking into hotels. And we’ve never had any issue, either.

    1. Auston Matta says:

      You’re right. It’s all about being smart and aware of the customs in each country.

  7. Tony says:

    While I can see the argument for broadening horizons, I am loath to spend my tourist money supporting the economies of places where basic respect for LGBT people is, at best, a rarity.

    1. Auston Matta says:

      Understandable…though we take a different approach, I know a lot of people share your view.

  8. ahsieka says:

    I have been following you for months and enjoy your posts on Europe, Spain, and Madrid in particular because I will be moving there soon. But I’ve noticed that your posts are gay male centric –even you are photos tend to contain only or mostly males. Can you recommend any gay women blogs?

    1. ahsieka says:

      That is to say, travel blogs tailored to gay women travelers.

    2. Auston Matta says:

      Yes we focus on gay more than LGBT overall. Check out these blogs/vlogs. They are all written by lesbian bloggers:

      http://dopesontheroad.com/
      http://globetrottergirls.com/
      http://www.buttonandbly.com/

  9. Mark says:

    I have been to tanzania and it is worth the effort. The Serengeti is amazing.

    1. Auston Matta says:

      Awesome! so many great places to see.

  10. Jon Rybka-Wachhaus says:

    Okay look… And I may be in the minority but… Why does it matter what your sexuality is when you go to ANY country. Unless you are trying to find gay bars or sex, I doubt any of these countries even care. I go on vacation to learn about the culture, eat the food and sight see… I do not need a bar or a wank to enjoy the time.

    1. Auston Matta says:

      Hi Jon – tough to say if you’re in the minority or what. We talk to lots of people with your perspective but there are plenty that would never set foot in a country where they don’t feel protected based on sexual orientation. There’s also those that don’t have issues with safety but just choose not to put their tourist dollars there so as not to support the countries policies, or lack there of. And of course, there are people in the middle who don’t have a strong opinion either way or simply don’t know and want to be educated – and I think this article is really aimed at that last group. Thanks for your opinion.

  11. What is a responsible tourism and respectful of local cultures? is the first important step for a cultural exchange. I have always been against a boycott of those destinations that do not recognize LGBT people .. for two simple reasons: I think the local LGBT community … invisible, but it certainly exists. We can not ignore it. And a cultural exchange, over time, can be of much help. Much more than many positions of power from organizations and foreign states.

    And those who know how to travel, know perfectly well that there is no risk on safety in many of these countries listed: common sense, always.

    Guys, thanks for your Blog!

    1. Auston Matta says:

      Yes Marco, couldn’t agree with you more. There is a huge difference between a country’s government and policies and often they leave out the local LGBT community. The only issue for those who don’t travel internationally much as not everyone has the knowledge and experience on the risks and how best to stay safe. But yes, mostly common sense. Thanks for your comments. We hope to keep you around ;-)

  12. Emma Cross says:

    Thank you for sharing this post! I promised my girlfriend that we will visit Egypt. Now I am not so sure. Best regards!

    1. Auston Matta says:

      We’ve never been to Egypt either! But it is definitely on our bucket list so hopefully sometime soon :-)

  13. LIchenCraig says:

    I appreciate your article, but I have to tell you, as someone who researches Islamic societies widely, I caution my gay friends to be careful and lie low in such countries. It isn’t enough to know something is illegal – you have to understand the common punishments and lack of involvement of our own government if you end up in the wrong situation. My own brother in law escaped Morocco (he had worked and lived there for years) literally in the middle of the night and by the skin of his teeth . .. literally fearing death at the hands of a mob. I’m glad you have had good experiences, but please don’t be lulled into a false security that just isn’t reality. I agree with you that people should travel, but they should also know how and why to be very invisible.

    1. Auston Matta says:

      Yes one definitely needs to practice caution. Completely agree. The world is a complicated place but still worth seeing if you are smart enough to handle yourself.

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