Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions
The Safest Countries For Black LGBTQIA+ Travelers
One of the great joys of life is traveling the world and discovering new cultures. Unfortunately, for some marginalized groups, including Black LGBTQIA+ travelers, this can come with great risk. Gay relationships are still criminalized in over 70 countries, which can make navigating the globe safely difficult for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Travel Noire consulted with OutOfOffice.com and the couple behind Wandering Soup for insight into safe travel for the Black, LGBTQIA+ community. OutofOffice.com is the world’s largest LGBTQIA+ travel company alongside its sister business TravelGay.com which is the world’s most visited LGBTQIA+ travel resource.
“Our aim at OutOfOffice.com is to facilitate safe and inclusive travel for all,” said founder and CEO Darren Burn. “We work with an incredible network of properties around the world that are fully welcoming of our clients – regardless of their sexual orientation, skin color or gender.”
Anondra ‘Kat’ Williams and wife Amber, are the former owners of Wandering Travel Tours, an agency that specialized in Black, LGBTQIA+ travel. Today, the couple travels the world with their child as they document their adventures on their Wandering Soup YouTube channel. Their recommendations are based on their own experiences as a Black queer couple.
“We looked at it from a “laws on the books” angle followed by treatment of African-Americans, past and present,” explained Williams. “No utopias of course, but life is still to be lived. We also looked at regions and chose our favorite from that area, add to that we looked at ease of residency/visa and things of that nature.”
Here are eight of the safest countries for Black LGBTQIA+ travelers.
1. French Polynesia
French Polynesia is a group of six archipelagos in the South Pacific Ocean, located in Oceania about halfway between South America and Australia. Burn says that it is among their most popular destinations at the agency.
“In French Polynesia, same-sex marriage is legal and extremely welcoming of all orientations.” According to the company’s site, “Polynesian society has no history of homophobia, making it quite unique among world cultures.”
“In Mexico, in places like Riviera Maya or Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find luxury 5-star hotels that go out their way to ensure they don’t discriminate, and you’ll find certain hotels that are specifically geared towards the LGBTQ+ traveler, and some properties have some of the most robust anti-discrimination policies we’ve witnessed,” shared Burn.
In fact, OutofOffice.com refers to Puerto Vallarta in particular as a ‘gay mecca.’ It is home to one of Latin America’s gay-friendliest neighborhoods, Zona Romantica.
It should come as no surprise that Greece made its way onto this list considering the existence of same-sex romance in Greek history. One of the most important relationships was that of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, two Athenian lovers who basically paved the way for democracy when they assassinated tyrant Hipparchus. Islands like Mykonos also have a reputation for good gay beaches and nightlife.
“In the Greek islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini, you’ll see many gay couples of all ethnicities enjoying the liberal European welcome,” said Burn.
Malta has topped the Rainbow Index for the last five years as the most gay-friendly country in Europe. In 2016, Time Magazine reported that the tiny southern European island made history by becoming the first European country to criminalize “deceptive and harmful” conversion therapy. It is considered to have some of Europe’s most progressive gay rights.
“In places like Malta, you’ll find that gender has been removed from passports, and it is now ranked as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world,” said Burn.
5. United Kingdom
A 2017 Nestpick survey of over 2500 participants found that London was number five on the list of Best LGBT cities. According to Nestpick, for a city to attain a high ranking on the list, it had to perform strongly in categories like vibrant gay dating scene, lively alternative nightlife, open-minded citizens, and low levels of hate crime. Another factor was “national laws affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, such as the right to get married or adopt children.”
“In Europe, places like the United Kingdom, Malta, and Greece all rank well in terms of their LGBTQ+ friendliness,” confirmed Burn.
Uruguay is one of the more liberal countries in South America, with LGBTQIA+ friendly laws. However, according to Williams, “your biggest concern will be your skin color.”
Black Uruguayans make up only 9% of the country’s population, with the majority residing in Montevideo and among the poorest sectors.
This southern European country has steadily moved in a progressive direction with LGBTQIA+ rights. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005 and adoption since 2016. Williams adds that anti-discrimination laws have been in effect since 1999.
8. Costa Rica
Costa Rica made history in May 2020 when it became the first Central American country to recognize gay marriage. Williams acknowledges that racism exists, particularly along the lines of colorism, and advises to choose a city or neighborhood wisely.