As a member of the LGBTQ+ community you may have some questions about how sexuality is considered abroad and what you need to think about when you volunteer or travel. Back at home, in recent times, laws and social opinions have become a lot more open, but in other countries around the world this is not always the case. We hope this post will give an overview of considerations in the Kaya countries, so you can make an informed decision when choosing your destination for travel.
The greatest concern for LGBTQ+ travellers is, of course, safety. Unfortunately, in some countries such as Belize, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya, homosexuality, or certain practises are either illegal or considered to be socially unacceptable. In these locations, we advise our LGBTQ+ volunteers to be aware of the laws that are present and how they might impact their particular situation. In some locations the knowledge of a person identifying, for example, as homosexual may be considered illegal, where elsewhere it is specific acts that are outlawed. It may be that the simple act of holding hands or kissing in public could lead to an arrest and imprisonment – and this is important to know.
Having said this, being part of the LGBTQ+ community does not have to stop you from travelling to these beautiful countries. Many travellers choose just not to disclose their position if they are not travelling with a partner, for example. This can be more difficult if you are hoping to travel as a couple or if you are not comfortable hiding your identity this way. – making this a very personal decision. By getting informed and taking the right precautions, you will still be able to have an incredible volunteer experience.
There are also other countries, such as Bolivia, China and even in some rural parts of Australia, where homosexuality is not illegal but there is still a very negative attitude present. Although homosexuality is legal, locals in some countries, such as Bolivia, frown upon the topic and may object to individuals working in their communities. In other countries, like China, there may not be any specific laws in place to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people. In these locations, we always advise our volunteers to speak to their advisor in advance about the situation in their project location, and to be aware of potential considerations that they may need to work with.
The good news is that there are so many other countries that welcome the LGBTQ+ community – with some even more open than our own homes. These include countries such as Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru, Thailand and Ecuador. Travelling to countries like these might be a good option for first time travellers or for those who do not want to have to worry about being open about their identity.
Kaya offer placements in all these countries, plus more – and your advisor can help you address any concerns you might have to identify the right destination for your travels. If you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community then don’t be put-off from travelling, but do make sure you are careful and respect the views of those who live there. While we might believe the local opinions and laws on these issues are wrong, it is not always safe, or culturally sensitive, to impose our views on these matters.
For those who are interested in advocating for social change for a local LGBTQ+ communities abroad, however, we have recently launched a great new project you might be interested in considering. Check out our LGBTQ NGO Development Internship in Thailand – a unique project helping provide support to the LGBTQ community in northern Thailand – where despite open social acceptance and no punitive laws, locals are working to further support and expand support for locals.