Spring may have sprung last week, but here in New York City, things are still not heating up as much as I’d like. I don’t know about you but I’m dreaming of sun, sandy beaches and balmy breezes. In order to satiate my thirst for travel, I started doing some vacay research and I was surprised to learn that many popular destinations are totally unfriendly to LGBT peeps. So I decided to round up a list of places I’m going to avoid for my own safety, and places you should steer clear of just to make a point.
- Jamaica. I’ve been to this beautiful island, but that was before I was out and also before I was hip to the heinous disregard for gay rights. While lesbians are mostly ignored, sexual acts between men are punishable by up to 10 years of jail time and hard labor. Gays and lesbians in this country have been raped, murdered and attacked, leading Time magazine to call it “the most homophobic place on earth.” Even straight ladies are treated pretty badly here. When I was there, my female friend and I tried to explore a town on foot. The sight of two white girls walking down the sidewalk made such a stir we caused a traffic jam and had to get into the nearest cab in order to avoid all the dudes who were stopping their cars nearby in order to talk to us.
- Nepal. This one might surprise you because tourism boards in Nepal are currently working their butts off to make this country appeal to LGBT travelers. They think that gay couples have a huge amount of disposable income and want to get their hands in our pockets in order to boost their economy. In February, Nepalese tourism peeps held a big LGBT conference. But I am skeptical of a country that suddenly begins to promote gay tourism so heavily. Where were they, like, 10 years ago? A bit of research confirmed my suspicions. Homosexuality was illegal in Nepal until 2007 because it was considered “unnatural” and “perverted.” Not gay marriage—just the mere act of people of the same sex getting it on. I’m betting some of those homophobic notions from three years ago are still around. I think I’ll wait on this trip.
- Greece. I’ve been to the Mediterranean and I can personally attest to its beauty. But I won’t be taking a trip to Greece anytime soon, despite the fact that I know of many Spring Breakers who recently flocked there. In Greece, police can force gay men to get tested for STDs. The age of consent for gay guys is higher, too—17 instead of 15 for straight couples. Recently, TV networks were fined for showing same-sex kisses. No LGBT peeps can serve in the military and the government has no laws protecting homosexuals from hate speech. Athens has made strides and even holds a gay pride parade but the rest of the country totally needs to catch up.
- Egypt. As much as I’d like to see the Egyptian pyramids, it looks like I’m going to have to wait. Despite the fact that officials in this country claim that homosexuality is OK, human rights groups say otherwise. LGBT relations are governed by super strict moral codes, which allow police to arrest cross-dressers and gay couples, even if they haven’t done anything “offensive” in public. Recently, the government has started cracking down hardcore and has raided many private parties held on the property of known gay couples.
- Nevada. Looks like you can only get down in Sin City if you are straight. The state is currently under fire for a taxi driver hiring policy that excludes “persons of high-risk groups, including homosexuals, intravenous drug users, prostitutes and others are to be treated with caution.” Hmm, guess tourism peeps will be happy to hear that I’m avoiding Nevada since I’m a person who should “be treated with caution.”
- Morocco. I’m dying to go to this country, but I won’t be setting foot there until the government has decided to make gay and lesbian same-sex relations legal. Morocco has no anti-discrimination laws and can imprison or fine you just for liking someone of the same gender.
- India. Plane tickets to India are ridiculously expensive but I’ve heard it’s totally worth it. Too bad this country just legalized homosexuality last year and LGBT groups, including HIV/AIDs activists, are openly harassed. I’m glad being gay is finally legal but, India, you’ve still got a long way to go.
Would you avoid vacationing in an anti-gay place to protest these policies?