As responsible, prepared travellers, we all need to consider our identities and how they might be viewed abroad – for our safety, and so we can adjust our expectations and still have an amazing trip. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you may have some questions about your sexuality abroad. Back home, in recent times, our communities have become more open and accepting, but in other countries around the world, this is not always the case. We hope this post helps you choose a destination or experience that’s right for you!
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 so they can understand how they might impact their experience. 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. This is, of course, 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 not to disclose their sexuality if they are not travelling with a partner, for example. This can be 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 informing yourself and taking the appropriate precautions, you can still have an incredible volunteer experience!
There are also other countries, such as Bolivia, China and even in some rural parts of Australia, where, although homosexuality is not illegal, 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 openly LGBTQ+ 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 ask our volunteers to speak to their advisor in advance about the situation in their project location, and to be aware of any potential considerations.
The good news is that there are many other countries that welcome the LGBTQ+ community! Some are even more open than the USA and the UK. These include countries such as Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru, Thailand and Ecuador. These countries might be great options for first-time travellers or for those who do not wish to worry about being open about their identities.
Kaya offer placements in all these countries, plus more. Let us know what you’re looking for during your application process and we can help you narrow down a list of options. We want to make sure you choose the right destination and program for you!
If you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, we hope you aren’t discouraged from travelling. We believe that it’s important to remain cautious and try to respect local views, for the sake of your own safety as well as cultural sensitivity.
For those of you who are interested in advocating for social change, check out our LGBTQ+ NGO Development Internship in Thailand, a unique project that helps provide support for the LGBTQ+ community in northern Thailand. Despite open social acceptance and no punitive laws, locals are working to expand support for LGBTQ+ community-members and create a more open, accepting environment!