BON VOYAGE

The U.S. State Department Wants To Play Travel Agent For the LGBT Community

rainbow-airplane-gay-travelAs enough Queerty articles have noted, knowing which countries are welcoming to LGBT travelers—and to what extent—can be complicated and confusing. (Though Spartacus’ new International Gay Travel Index spells it out pretty well.)

Well, now the State Department has gotten in on the act and launched a International LGBT travel site giving general advice to both travelers coming to America, and U.S. citizens heading overseas.

Under a quote from Secretary Hilary Clinton about how “gay rights are human rights” the guide gives general guidelines, some of which are informative (if you bring your kids, take documentation confirming your legal status as guardian), some a little common-sense (“Avoid potentially risky situations,”) and others a little depressing  (“Avoid excessive physical displays of affection in public.”)

More tips include:

  • If you intend to frequent Internet chat rooms or other meeting places, it’s wise to find out about the local situation – police in some countries have been known to monitor such sites and locales with the intention of carrying out entrapment campaigns
  • Avoid excessive physical displays of affection in public, particularly in more conservative countries or regions
  • Be wary of new-found “friends” – criminals sometimes exploit the generally open and relaxed nature of the LGBT scene
  • If you receive unwelcome attention or unwelcome remarks, it’s usually best to ignore them
  • Some resorts or LGBT neighborhoods can be quite segregated.  Be aware that local residents may not approve of expressions of sexuality when you are in surrounding areas
  • Some hotels, especially in rural areas, won’t accept bookings from same-sex couples.  It’s best to check before you go.

You can get a whiff of the on-the-ground attitudes in a given country on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains information about attitudes, harassment, and arrests relating to LGBT travelers. The BCA site also lists whether or not a country has a HIV travel ban.

For more international travel information, including more than 100 city guides, visit GayCities.com