Gay Friendly Destinations: State Department Launches LGBT Information Wesbite

Last month, the government launched a LGBT information section on the State Department's travel website. This website holds such information as to obtaining passports/visas, aid in international parental child abduction and now tips for LGBT couples and families to travel safely abroad. 

Nestled just below "Hajj Fact Sheet" — for the annual trip to Mecca — and above "International Travel Safety Information for Students" now sits "LGBT Travel Information" providing advice and links in regards to LGBT specific international travel.  The portal encourages travelers to research the "laws and biases of their international destination and decide how open one can be regarding one's sexual orientation or gender identity." The site's Country Specific Information page explains which countries give legal aid and rights to LGBT persons. The list also holds information regarding the what a LGBT traveler could endure in a more conservative country, like being sent to "prison, and/or be punished by fines, deportation, flogging, or even sentenced to death." 

The "While You're There" section gives basic guidelines that apply to most travelers, though some tips particularly apply to the LGBT community. Advice ranges from general warnings to be respectful and know the country's laws are applicable to Americans to the more specific "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." Unnerving, but useful information before planning your trip to Sudan — where homosexuality is punishable by death. 

The creation of this government-endorsed portal is a good step in achieving LGBT rights and shows the country is evolving through this period of indecision. The portal is an overall good first resource when planning a trip abroad as an American LGBT couple or family, though hopefully followed by more research though blogs and current events to ensure a fuller understanding of a country for your safety abroad.

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Jordan Anne Jacobi

LA born with Glaswegian tones, educated at UC Santa Cruz, just back from NYC, now writing and working in LA.

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