We found a very interesting article on The Huffington Post - the top 10 world destinations gay and lesbian travelers should avoid. As girlfriends who love to travel together, and who don't like having to avoid showing affection completely in our travels, we think it's very good to at least have an idea how the countries you visit feel about your love. Here are the highlights or that be lowlights:
1. Nigeria - this comes as no surprise to us, as the country is one of eight in the world where by law, being gay is punishable by death, and they actually enforce it! In 2008, a newspaper printed the photos, names and addresses of members of a gay-friendly church in Lagos - the next day, 12 members of the church were beaten and threatened. Personally, Laura finds Nigeria's appearance on this list really sad, because pre-Sarah, three of her most recent boyfriends were Nigerian, and because of that, she's always wanted to go there. And for the record, her boyfriends were all really good about the going out with a girl-thing, except the one who got dumped in favour of Sarah, which is understandable.
2. Jamaica - Bob Marley may have sung 'No Woman, No Cry' but apparently the rest of the country doesn't feel the same. Along with the 3rd highest ranking in the world for murder rate per capita, Jamaica also has been dubbed the worst country in the Americas for gays and lesbians. Time magazine called it the most homophobic place on earth!! Physical violence against homosexuals is commonplace by citizens and police. The hatred is attributed partly to the popularity of 'murder music' - reggae songs filled with hate and glorifying brutality towards gay people. Typically, this is another location Laura has always wanted to visit - lets hope they start to change for the better soon.
3. Uganda - Geez, there are a lot of African countries on this list. Uganda is beautiful and full of rich jungle and safari. It'd be the perfect place to see wild animals and an un-spoiled Africa. Unfortunately, it is one of only 7 nations in which homosexuality is punishable by a life prison sentence. Neighboring Kenya is a similar risk for gay couples who prefer not to actively hide their orientation.
4. Guyana - In contrast to a lot of South American countries with vibrant gay scenes and an open tolerance towards homosexuality, being gay in Guyana can result in prison for life. Public displays of affection between gays and lesbians has occasionally resulted in violent attacks, and they are often detained without being told what for. For this reason most of their gay citizens remain closeted. If you want to go to South America, Brazil or Argentina might be better options.
5. United Arab Emirates - This one surprised Laura, because even though Dubai is Muslim, it is so trendy and is the tourist hot spot of the middle east! Unfortunately, their laws ban homosexuality. The punishment for an offence isn't as harsh as some others on this list, or many of their neighbouring countries, but sentences range from prison to fines. In 2008, two female tourists were jailed for one month for kissing on a public beach! But in a country where kissing someone you are not married to is illegal, I guess they aren't completely discriminating in this regard. We'll be careful when we visit our friend who has just moved to Dubai!
6. Barbados - The birthplace of rum, and a country with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Barbados unfortunately still punishes homosexuality with a life sentence. The law is currently under review, but until it is changed, you might want to holiday elsewhere in the Caribbean!
7. Belize - With its rich history and Mayan ruins, Belize also boasts the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. It's a real shame then that under their Immigration Act, homosexuals are banned from even entering the country! As if there is a foolproof way to tell. Even more insulting is the double standard. Homosexual activity among men carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, but between two women, it is perfectly legal!! If you can, skip Belize and holiday in neighboring (and much more gay friendly) Costa Rica.
8. Malaysia - Despite Kuala Lumpur's infamous reputation as a trans and gay hotspot, be aware when visiting - 'unnatural offenses', or sodomy and oral sex, for homosexuals (as well as heterosexuals) are illegal and carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years and whippings!! That's a steep charge if you ask us!! In fact, a former Deputy Prime Minister received a 9 year sentence in 2000 for sodomy. We hope it was worth it haha!
9. Egypt - Typically, as we are going there later this year, Egypt is on this list. Homosexuality isn't expressively outlawed in the country, but as Egypt is majority Muslim, the subject is taboo. Because Islam does prohibit homosexuality, you will come across a lot of discrimination and homophobia. In fact, the police are sometimes the worst, harassing and sometimes torturing gay individuals. Luckily we will only be staying long enough to see the Great Pyramids!
10. Montenegro - The Eastern European country decriminalized homosexuality in 1977, but anti-gay attitudes continue to be present, as well as in other former Soviet nations. The government often reinforces this prejudice - for example, in 2009 Montenegro's Minister of Human and Minority Rights (of all people) said on a TV broadcast that he 'would be unhappy' to discover the presence of homosexuality in his country. Terrible!! We were worried before going to Moscow because they had just introduced fines for homosexual activity/promoting the agenda there - but we still managed to kiss at midnight on New Years Eve in Red Square!! We figured on our last day that a fine would be worth the good story afterwards haha!!
So there you have it!
This list isn't meant to scare you - we've posted it merely to raise awareness. If PDA doesn't come naturally to you, then you shouldn't have a problem in any of these countries. However, knowledge is power, and it can't be a bad thing to know the rules and attitude regarding homosexuality in the places that you travel.
Hopefully sooner rather than later, these laws and attitudes will change. Until then, we want to make an effort to travel and spend our money helping the economies of countries that accept our love.
Have you had any homophobic or bad experiences in your travels? Or on the flip side, have you been to any of the places on this list and had a positive experience? We'd love to hear from you!
Happy travels, Laura & Sarah xo
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