LGBTQ+ holidays guide

It is the 21st century and same-sex marriage may have been legalised across 29 countries, but when it comes to travelling overseas, LGBTQ+ travellers can still face regressive laws, prejudiced hosts, and being criminalised simply for who they are. Laws are complex, local attitudes are difficult to gauge, and even within a country, different communities may have different stances on sexuality and gender.
When so many couples go on holiday in order to spend time together and nurture their relationships, it’s heartbreaking that others still feel unsafe simply holding hands on the street.
A huge problem is the lack of information, including from tour companies themselves. Same-sex relationships are legal in Mexico, for example, but how can a couple be sure they won’t face discrimination there for requesting a double room? What about explaining to their South African host family that they are married, or transgender? And what are the attitudes in deeply religious societies? Responsible Travel has created this LGBTQ+ holidays guide to provide the most comprehensive information about LGBTQ+ issues around the world. It’s important to note that we do not sell specifically LGBTQ+ holidays, nor do our tour operators exclude travellers based on their gender or sexual orientation. Our holidays are open to everyone.

Who is this guide for?

Our holidays focus overwhelmingly on wildlife, cultural experiences and activities such as hiking, cycling or kayaking, and this guide aspires to answer some of the questions that LGBTQ+ travellers may have when visiting certain countries, and to do so in an honest way. Responsible tourism benefits destinations and local communities, but it also needs to support travellers and not shy away from difficult issues.

Why are there so few LGBTQ+ holidays listed on Responsible Travel?

We have over 5,800 trips on our website, and all accept LGBTQ+ travellers. However, at present just 600 of these trips are listed as 'LGBTQ+ holidays'. The reason for this is that those we describe as LGBTQ+ on our site have undertaken detailed research so that they can provide LGBTQ+ travellers with specific information and assurances. This includes on-the-ground research with local accommodation, tour guides, drivers and so on.

It's impossible for any holiday company to guarantee that their travellers will be free of harassment or discrimination, no matter where they travel or what precautions are taken; here in the UK, the press publicised a case of a B&B owner turning away a gay couple in 2010. There will always be exceptions. But the tour operators whose trips are now listed as LGBTQ+ friendly on our site have done as much research as they can, and are comfortable that they can share any necessary information with LGBTQ+ travellers. Many will have already welcomed LGBTQ+ travellers on their holidays, and will have used these experiences and any feedback received to be able to better inform future travellers.
This is an ongoing effort. We hope that in the coming months, and years, many more – if not all – of our trips will be classed as LGBTQ+ holidays, as more and more operators become aware of the importance of providing this information, and know what questions to ask, in order to ensure that LGBTQ+ travellers can enjoy our holidays just as much – and as safely – as anyone else.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about LGBTQ or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Why do LGBTQ+ people need dedicated travel guides?

Sadly, the reality is that many countries still have laws which discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. Same-sex sexual activity may be a criminal offence; same-sex marriage or partnerships may not be recognised; discrimination may be legal; and even activities such as kissing or holding hands may result in penalties. It is important to familiarise yourself with the laws of the country you are visiting, to help you decide whether or not to visit, as well as to understand how open to be about your sexual orientation while in the destination.
In some countries, the situation is more complex than simply reading up on the legal issues. South Africa, for example, has very progressive anti-discrimination laws and was one of the first countries – and remains the only one in Africa – to legalise same-sex marriage. However, outside of the more liberal, metropolitan areas, deeply conservative attitudes prevail, and harassment and violence towards LGBTQ+ people is commonplace. LGBTQ+ travellers, then, will need to know what questions to ask their holiday companies to ensure their safety, to find out if experiences such as community homestays are feasible, and to understand how open to be about their relationships or gender in some regions.
Sometimes it works the other way around. In Japan, same-sex couples do not have the same legal protections as other citizens, yet this very private nation does not believe in interfering in other people’s personal business, and LGBTQ+ people will be treated no differently to anyone else.
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: daniel james] [Hand holding: Valentin Antonucci]