My recent Why We Travel post discussed the potential risks of traveling to the Sochi Olympics in the wake of Russia's new anti-gay law. But the Duma is far from the only legislative body on earth enacting prohibitive policies against LGBT individuals.
The list of countries with draconian laws includes many of the expected players: Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria call for the death penalty as punishment for homosexual activity. In Bangladesh and Guyana, life imprisonment awaits transgressors. Yet these countries are not exactly top destinations for most Americans. So however they may feel about the laws, US travelers are unlikely to base their vacation plans off of them. A travel boycott by Americans to the Solomon Islands, where homosexuals face up to fourteen years in jail, is unlikely to hold much sway.
But a surprising number of tourist-friendly places suddenly appear less amicable when judged by their LGBT policies. Business hubs such as Singapore, the UAE and Kuwait criminalize same-sex sexual activity. As do safari hot-spots Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Family favorites in the Caribbean like Jamaica, Antigua, Dominica, St. Kitts, and Barbados join the list as well. And let's not forget Belize, where the government currently restricts homosexuals from immigrating into the country and punishes offenders with up to ten years behind bars.
Travelers in the United States would do well to remember that the US only left this list in 2003, when Lawrence v. Texas legalized same-sex sexual activity nationwide.
What is the global traveler to do? Never see an elephant in the wild? Skip the waterfalls at Ocho Rios? Where is it safe to visit, and where should the LGBT explorer pass by? The next post will examine ways to make socially conscious, responsible decisions when planning vacations.
For a full rundown of LGBT rights country by country, visit the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.