Gay Friendly__Country Check
[Last Update: October 17, 2012]
Gays have a sense of situations if they are welcome or faced with reservation and refusal, if they can behave as they are or have to hide being gay. They remember exactly the places where they have been treated with respect and acceptance, and they recommend the country, city, restaurant or hotel to their friends. That applies much more for the opposite case if they had been treated badly. The word-of-mouth within the worldwide gay community should not be underestimated!
For sure it makes a difference if you are travelling as single, with your partner or a bigger group of gays. Two men or women together catches someone's eye more than a single person! In many countries it's not common that two men take one bed in a double room or blow kisses to each other at the pool. Singles are often confronted with discussions or bad looks of the reception if the flirt of the club stays overnight at the hotel.
Therefore we prefer travelling to countries and places where no "stress" is guaranteed and bars, clubs and special services provide entertainment and the freedom of being gay. It's not surprising that gays of homophobic countries like travelling to countries where they can feel free - at least for a short time - like "in paradise".
Of course, the so-called "Gay Hot Spots" in the few liberal countries worldwide aren't those "paradises on earth" at all - even there gays are facing prejudices and violence sometimes. But: What are the prejudices of a small minority in Sweden for instance compared with the public execution of gay youngsters in a fully occupied stadium in Iran?!
Our COUNTRY CHECK with colour codes for "gay friendly" serves as a guide for orientation, nothing else. GAYSONTOUR neither wants to dictate your travel destination nor blame a whole country's population to be homophobic. We know that homophobic attitudes on the one side and deep hospitality to foreigners on the other side don't disagree in many countries. We also know that in some countries contacts with gay tourists can - slowly of course! - help to change the social climate for gays in a positive way. And it's also fact, that in countries which highly depend on tourism foreigners are treated less repressive than native gays.
Anyhow we appeal to our users:
Don't spend your money in countries which oppress and persecute gays or even execute them. Without signs of change they haven't deserved it!
Not every gay friendly country is a safe travel destination at the same time - and reverse. GAYSONTOUR provides information about the general security situation for many countries on the menu [SERVICE_Security]
GAY FRIENDLY COLOUR CODES
GREEN countries with a remarkable up to high level of freedom and acceptance, homosexual lifestyles and issues are present in public and media, no penal laws against homosexuality, in some countries laws against discrimination are in force as well as legal recognition of gay partnerships, high-level infrastructure of bars, clubs, shops, services and social organisations
can be recommended as travel destinations for singles and gay couples
YELLOW homosexuals and their lifestyles are mostly considered as negative and absolutely taboo, ignorance is widespread, in some countries penal laws against homosexuality are in force, but generally the social climate for gays tends to improve slowly, more tolerance only in big cities with a gay infrastructure or in touristic areas with higher rates of visitors from western countries
can be recommended only with restrictions as travel destinations, discreet behaviour is mostly advisable, especially for couples
RED extreme homophobic attitudes and aggressions are widespread, mostly severe penal laws for homosexual acts, gays are living in the closet and face oppression and violence, you will hardly find gay infrastructure or it's totally undercover
you should avoid those countries as travel destinations
Actually homosexuality is illegal in 75 states worldwide, in 9 countries prosecution of homosexual acts can even reach the death penalty.
In many European states homosexual couples enjoy the right of civil marriage or other forms of legal recognition. In countries with civil marriage gay and lesbian partnerships have the same rights like heterosexual couples, in the rest their partnerships are almost equal to civil marriage or with clearly less rights. The partnership laws are different from country to country.
AUSTRIA liberal climate, increasing acceptance despite conservative politics, since January 2010 the legal recognition of partnerships is in force (almost equal to civil marriage), highly developed infrastructure, Hot Spots: Vienna, Graz
BELGIUM very liberal climate, high level of acceptance, partnerships equal to civil marriage since 2003, well developed infrastructure, Hot Spots: Brussels, Antwerp
CROATIA increasing tolerance, legal recognition of partnerships since 2003 with clearly less rights than civil marriage, increasing infrastructure, Hot Spots: Zagreb and tourist resorts
CZECH REPUBLIC liberal climate, increasing acceptance, legal recognition of partnerships since 2006 with clearly less rights than civil marriage, well developed infrastructure, Hot Spot: Prague
(unfortunately in June 2008 for the first time in the Czech Repbulic a gay pride demonstration in the city of Brünn was attacked by right wing extremists, many people were shocked - and surprised as well - about the sudden anti-gay violence)
DENMARK very permissive and liberal climate, high level of acceptance, legal recognition of partnerships since 1989 (almost equal to civil marriage), well developed infrastructure, Hot Spot: Copenhagen (recognition of partnerships also in GREENLAND which is associated with Denmark)
FINLAND very liberal climate, high level of acceptance, legal recognition of partnerships since 2002 (almost equal to civil marriage), well developed infrastructure, Hot Spot: Helsinki
FRANCE very liberal climate, high level of acceptance, highly developed infrastructure in big cities, legal recognition of partnerships since 1999 with clearly less rights than civil marriage, Hot Spots: Paris, Marseille, Nizza, Lyon
GERMANY very liberal climate, permissive atmosphere in big cities, high level of acceptance, legal recognition of partnerships since 2001 with clearly less rights than civil marriage, highly developed infrastructure not only in big cities, Hot Spots: Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt
GREECE increasing acceptance, developed infrastructure in big cities and some tourist resorts, Hot Spots: Athens, Thessaloniki and the islands of Mykonos and Lesbos
ICELAND very liberal climate and widespread acceptance in the nordic country which has only a total population of 320.000, homosexuality was already legalised in 1940, after the legal recognition of homosexual partnerships (1996) the final step towards civil marriage for same-sex couples war done end of June 2010, the openly lesbian Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir was one of the first who married her partner, the annual Gay Pride in August in the capital of Reykjavik is one of the major events in the country and considered as tourist attraction
IRELAND increasing acceptance, infrastructure is dynamicly developing, Hot Spot: Dublin
ITALY increasing acceptance but still great influence of the Catholic Church, Italy is the only founding country of the EU which does not allow any legal recognition of same-sex partnerships till this day, well developed infrastructure only in big cities, Hot Spots: Rome, Milan, Turin, Bologna, Florence/Viareggio
LUXEMBURG liberal climate, high level of acceptance, legal recognition of partnerships since 2004 with clearly less rights than civil marriage
MALTA increasing acceptance and visibility in media and public, positive influence of EU-membership
NETHERLANDS very permissive and liberal climate, high level of acceptance, highly developed infrastructure, partnerships equal to civil marriage since 2001, Hot Spots: Amsterdam, Rotterdam
NORWAY very liberal climate, high level of acceptance, the law of legal recognition of partnerships from 1993 was upgraded by the opening of civil marriage for gays in January 2009, well developed infrastructure, Hot Spot: Oslo
PORTUGAL increasing acceptance in the predominantly Catholic country (85%), mainly in big cities the atmosphere is pretty liberal, the capital of Lisbon serves with a developed infrastructure, in May 2010 the legal recognition of partnerships (since 2001) has been changed by the right of civil marriage for gays which grants equal rights except for adoption
SLOVENIA increasing tolerance, legal recognition of partnerships since 2006 with clearly less rights than civil marriage, the most gay friendly and "model country" in gay politics among the new East European EU-members, but in recent years - similar to the trend in other South Eastern European countries - homophobic attacks are increasing, so in June 2010 a gay café in the capital was attacked several times, Hot Spot: Ljubljana
SPAIN very liberal climate, permissive atmosphere in big cities, high level of acceptance, highly developed infrastructure in big cities, partnerships equal to civil marriage since 2005, Hot Spots: Madrid, Barcelona, Sitges, Valencia, Sevilla, Benidorm, Torremolinos and the islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Mallorca and Ibiza
SWEDEN very liberal and permissive climate, high level of acceptance, in May 2009 the legal recognition of partnerships (since 1995) has been changed by the right of civil marriage for gays, furthermore gay couples got the right of church wedding by the Protestant State Church, well developed infrastructure, Hot Spots: Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö
SWITZERLAND very liberal climate, high level of acceptance, well developed infrastructure, legal recognition of partnerships since 2007 (almost equal to civil marriage), Hot Spots: Zurich, Bern, Lausanne, Geneva
UNITED KINGDOM very liberal climate, high level of acceptance, highly developed infrastructure not only in big cities, legal recognition of partnerships since 2005 (almost equal to civil marriage), Hot Spots: London, Manchester, Brighton, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow
CYPRUS no penal laws anymore since EU-membership, but homophobic attitudes are widespread, very low infrastructure
ESTONIA homophobic attitudes are widespread, no penal laws against homosexual acts, infrastructure in the capital of Tallinn, EU-membership has a positive impact as well as close relations to the liberal neighbouring country Finland, gay tourism can support the trend
HUNGARY homophobic attitudes are still widespread, in recent times increasing anti-gay attacks by right-wing and nationalist groups have been reported, the official policy however has been quite gay friendly in the past, in July 2009 the law of legal recognition of gay partnerships (almost equal to civil marriage) was put into force, gay infrastructure is only present in the capital of Budapest
LATVIA people are predominantly homophobic, no penal laws anymore since EU-membership, in recent years gay prides needed to be protected by police and had even been forbidden by authorities, low infrastructure, gay tourism can support the local scene, Hot Spot: Riga
LITHUANIA people are predominantly homophobic, no penal laws anymore since EU-membership, but homophobic trends in politics are obvious: in summer 2009 a law for "protection of children" passed the parliament which mainly addresses against educational activities of gay groups
after years of gay pride bans by authorities the first Baltic Pride took place in May 2010 in the capital of Vilnius, about 500 people - amongst them several foreign members of the EU Parliament - took part in the march, protected by twice as many police officers from a homophobic mob of several thousand, gay tourism can support the local community
POLAND increasing tolerance and liberal atmosphere in larger cities, at the same time still widespread homophobic attitudes in rural areas, homophobia is mainly pushed by the Catholic Church, right-wing politicians and parts of the media, dynamic infrastructure in large cities, gay tourism can support the trends, Hot Spots: Warsaw, Cracow
the EU policy (Poland is member of the EU since 2004) has had a positive impact so far on the situation of gays and lesbians, still in 2005 the Gay Pride in Warsaw was officially forbidden and in July 2010 about 10.000 people joined the parade for Europride in the Polish capital
RUSSIA penal laws against homosexuality had been repealed, but homophobic attitudes are still widespread in daily social life despite the fact that Russian society tend to western lifestyles, unfortunately politics and the strong Orthodox Church misapply consistantly those attitudes, in general living openly gay isn't tolerated nowhere, in the last five years Gay Pride manifestations in Moscow had been banned by court or cancelled by police violence, however there is an increasing (but mostly undercover acting) gay infrastructure of bars, clubs and saunas in St. Petersburg and Moscow, in the Asian parts of Russia homosexual life is usually non-existent
SLOVAKIA homophobic attitudes are still widespread in the country which is independent since 1993 (former part of Czechoslovakia), but since the country's membership in the EU gay rights and issues cannot be ignored any longer, only in the capital of Bratislava the climate is more liberal, in recent years right-wing trends including agitation against homosexuals are increasing, in May 2010 the first pride march in Bratislava had to be canceled partly due to violent right-wing counter-demonstrators
TURKEY officially a secular and western oriented state, but in fact Islamic influences are increasing in society, homosexual life including a commercial infrastructure is only visible in few major cities and tourist resorts, homophobic attitudes, especially in rural areas, are widespread in society, gays and transgender people face frequently harassment and repression by authorities and police forces (up to torture according to a report of Human Rights Watch from May 2008)
Even killings of activists are reported from time to time. In July 2008 an openly gay activist of the organisation Lambda in Istanbul was murdered "for honour" by his family and in March 2009 another member of Lambda was stabbed and killed in her home in the center of Istanbul.
Nevertheless: There is a slowly increasing gay infrastructure in major cities, especially in Istanbul where Gay Pride marches are reality since years. In June 2010 more than 4.000 people joined the march, amongst them even a group of mothers. Gay tourism can support the trend, Hot Spots: Istanbul, Izmir, Bodrum, Antalya
In many countries of EASTERN and SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE homophobic attitudes are widespread. Even in major cities infrastructure is only developed on a low level. Gay life happens mostly in the closet.
In recent years homophobic attacks are increasing in some countries, joined by homophobic agitation by Christian Orthodox Churches and politicians. Furthermore gays are increasingly exploited as "scapegoats" for interior problems and get targets of right wing extremists and nationalist groups.
In some countries even tourists can get victims of attacks if they behave obviously as gays. According to reports in August 2010 a German gay couple was attacked and robbed in Serbia's capital Belgrad because of "hate" against gays.
Serbia is considered as one of the most homophobic countries in the region. The Serbian Orthodox Church is leading the movement of hate against gays, together with right-wing extremist and nationalist groups. In October 2010 the first Gay Pride since 2001 took place in Belgrad. About 1.000 participants had to be protected by more than 5.000 policemen. The anti-gay mob threw stones and firebombs, provoked heavy riots and devastated parts of the city.
In the Czech Republic for the first time a gay pride parade in the city of Brünn was attacked in June 2008 by right wing extremists, and in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, the first gay pride was even attacked with molotov cocktails. In Bukarest, capital of Romania, 1.200 policemen protected the "march of diversity" with about 200 gays and lesbians in May 2008.
Even in Budapest, capital of Hungary, the pride march in 2007 was attacked by right wing extremists for the first time since 1997, furthermore molotov cocktails were thrown at gay venues. The last pride march in September 2009 was joined by a huge contingent of policemen that it occured in fact as a "closed event" on the streets without public.
Source: Lambda News, HOSI Vienna
Following countries belong to this category: (without Czech Republic and Hungary!)
Albania Bosnia-Herzegowina Bulgaria (EU-member) Macedonia
Kosovo Moldava Montenegro Romania (EU-member) Serbia
Africa / Middle East & Arabia
ISRAEL the most liberal and permissive country in the Middle East, high level of acceptance, well developed infrastructure, Hot Spot: Tel Aviv
LA REUNION island in the Indian Ocean belongs to France and is part of the EU, French laws are in force including legal recognition of partnerships (since 1999, with clearly less rights than civil marriage), very liberal and high level of acceptance, developped infrastructure
SOUTH AFRICA the only country on the continent and one of the few worldwide which protects homosexuals constitutionally against discrimination, partnerships equal to civil marriage since 2006, liberal climate and well developed infrastructure in major cities, remarkable range of gay friendly hotels, but there is a big gap between the white minority and the black majority referring to acceptance of homosexuality, among black population homophobia and violent acts are widespread, Hot Spots: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Knysna
LEBANON the exception among the Arab countries not only for its noticeable 40% rate of Christian population but also for its widespread western lifestyle, anyway society is pretty much conservative regarding homosexuality, acting openly gay is a strong taboo, discretion in the public is the norm everywhere, if you keep with the norm you will enjoy certain liberties behind the scenes, the law against homosexual acts is still in force but has rarely been practised in recent years, the same with attacks by the police, mainly in the capital of Beirut a partly visible gay infrastructure of bars, clubs and other venues has increased in recent years which is unique among Arab countries, this limited liberty attracts lots of gays from the neighbouring countries and the Arab Gulf States
MAURITIUS homophobic attitudes are widespread, law against sodomy is in force (imprisonment up to 5 years) but rarely practiced, dominance of tourism provided more liberality in recent years, low infrastructure
SEYCHELLES homophobic attitudes are widespread, but decency law can be applied to gays, dominance of tourism provides more liberality, low infrastructure
AFRICA Apart from South Africa almost all countries on the continent can be considered as highly homophobic. In many countries gays are facing repression and persecution by police and authorities. Even though there are some popular travel destinations on the list such as Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia or Morocco* it's typical for all: homosexuals don't enjoy neither freedom nor acceptance or even rights. Although there is a difference between tourists and locals it's no fun at all for forgeign gays or couples travelling through mentioned countries!
In some countries gays are facing defamation in the media, individuals are even pilloried publicly. Governments or politicians abuse frequently homophobic resentments to draw off the attention from interior deficits.
Mainly in Sub-Saharan African countries the conspiracy theory is common whereby homosexuality (and Aids) has been introduced by the "white man" or western countries to destroy black people and the "African culture".
Homophobia is widespread and abused politically in countries which are both predominantly Islamic and Christian - there is no difference.
* In Morocco some tourist resorts are known for getting easy contacts to local gays or guys - but attention, most of them are commercial! Furthermore in the moderate Islamic country an undercover gay magazine named "Mithly" ("gay") is published since April 2010 - the first at all in the Arabian speaking world! [Homepage]
We don't list all countries but only the "worst":
Algeria Egypt Libya Mauritania (partly death penalty) Gambia
Nigeria (partly death penalty) Senegal Sudan (partly death penalty) Kenya
Uganda (up to 14 years in prison, actually there are plans to introduce death penalty for "sodomy acts", state: February 2010, newspapers are consistently agitating against gays, sometimes by publishing names and photos and even calling to kill them, last happened in October 2010) Tanzania Zambia Zimbabwe Malawi
MIDDLE EAST & ARABIA All countries of the Middle East (except Israel and - with restriction - Lebanon) as well as the Arabian countries are extremely homophobic. In some Islamic states homosexuals even face public flogging and execution.
The Islamic theocracy of Iran (since 1979) is an extreme example of homophobic policy. According to Human Rights Organizations till this day more than 4.000 persons had been executed for homosexual acts by the Mullah regime.
Even Dubai which presents itself as a modern and cosmopolitan place for tourists cannot brighten up the dark overall impression. Cosmopolitan flair may apply to western tourists but for local gays openness ends up at least in prison.
Further countries on the black list:
Syria Jordan Iraq (systematic torture and executions of gays by Islamist militias are frequently reported, they are acting without control by state authorities or police forces, since the beginning of 2009 persecution escalated according to a documentation (published August 17, 2009) of the international organisation Human Rights Watch which speaks about a systematic campaign with hundreds of killed persons, Amnesty International has documented 500 cases since 2005) Kuweit
Saudi Arabia (death penalty) Yemen (death penalty) Bahrein Qatar
Oman United Arab Emirates (death penalty in some small emirates, imprisonment up to 14 years in Abu Dhabi and Dubai)
Asia / Oceania
AUSTRALIA very liberal climate and high level of acceptance especially in major cities, well developed infrastructure, in the federal state of Tasmania legal recognition of partnerships (almost equal to civil marriage), the Marriage Act introduced 2004 bans the opening of civil marriage to gays and lesbians nationwide, but actually there are political efforts for cancelling the law, Hot Spots: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide
NEW ZEALAND very liberal climate, high level of acceptance, well developed infrastructure, legal recognition of partnerships (almost equal to civil marriage), Hot Spots: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch
TAHITI part of the archipel of French Polynesia in the South Pacific, the island state belongs to France and the EU, French laws are in force including the legal recognition of partnerships (with clearly less rights than civil marriage), tolerant and liberal atmosphere, low infrastructure
THAILAND strong Buddhist influence, very tolerant atmosphere, Thais have a relaxed and easy-going attitude to homosexuality, in the new Constitution of 2007 discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned, well developed infrastructure in major cities and tourist resorts, Hot Spots: Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai
Notice: People of countries which are strongly influenced by Buddhist religion are mostly moderate and not at all aggressive towards gays, even if homosexuality is not considered to be "normal". This behaviour includes more than ever tourists.
CAMBODIA strong Buddhist influence, developed infrastructure in the capital of Phnom Penh, in recent years a rigorous campaign against prostitution with minors unfortunately provoked a system of blackmails in which police, justice and supposed minors are involved against tourists!
CHINA even though laws against homosexual acts were cancelled in 1997 homosexuality was officially declared as a "mental desease" till 2001, since then the social climate for homosexuals is changing very slowly towards more liberality, but they are still light-years away from general freedom and equal rights
referring sexuality the Chinese society is very closed and attitudes are mostly traditional, in smaller cities and mainly in rural areas open gay lifestyles are absolutely taboo and frowned upon and it's no singular phenomenon that gays and lesbians get married to avoid social pressure, the word 'juehu' - without succession - is considered as a popular dirty word
nevertheless the situation has visibly changed in recent years especially in major cities such as Shanghai, Hongkong and Beijing where a commercial infrastructure of bars, clubs, saunas and other venues could establish, Shanghai in particular is on the way to a "mecca" for Chinese gays, furthermore free spaces for gays has been created by the internet advancement
due to the widespread control by state authorities - police raids at gay venues and bans of events are consistently reported - the more open attitude towards gays can be considered as official policy, in June 2009 the first Pride Week took place in Shanghai and in November 2009 the 2nd Pride Parade was held in Hongkong
in April 2010 the entry ban for travellers/tourists with HIV and Aids was officially cancelled
INDIA homosexuality is still a strong taboo and mostly ignored in public discussion, but there are signals for change, homophobic attitudes are widespread and kept alive mainly by agents of the major religions (Hinduism and Islam)
in July 2009 the High Court of India legalised homosexual acts and cancelled the total ban (clause 377) after an aids help organisation filed a lawsuit, the law was already introduced 148 years ago under British colonial rule and penalised gay sex with arrest by 10 years, although the law was rarely practiced it served as argument to justify discrimination
major cities such as Mumbai (Bombay) or New Dehli have a gay infrastructure but it's pretty low developed and rudimental compared to the population, anyhow the first small gay pride marches took already place, a gay magazine called "Bombay Dost" is published in Mumbai and since July 2010 an openly gay prince publishes two other lifestyle prints for gays and lesbians
regarding traditions and modern ways of life gay activists describe India as a country where the 21st and 16th century exist side by side
INDONESIA Islam is the dominant religion but in daily life it appears pretty moderately, homosexuality is considered as taboo, but gays in general don't face aggressions, developped infrastructure only on the tourist island of Bali which is mainly influenced by Hindu religion
JAPAN increasing acceptance within a traditionally conservative society, well developped infrastructure in big cities, Hot Spots: Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo
KOREA SOUTH homosexuality is absolutely taboo in the traditionally conservative society, no penal laws, infrastructure in the capital of Seoul
MALAYSIA Islam is considered as state religion, about 60% of the population are muslims, but Buddhist and other religions (Chinese, Indians) are mostly tolerated
even though the government pursues a moderate version of Islam fundamentalist tendencies are increasing in recent years, more and more provinces are applying the Islamic penal code of Scharia, homosexual acts can be sanctioned with up to 20 years in prison, suspicion of homosexuality is a common measure to muzzle the political opposition
end of 2008 the country's National Fatwa Council announced a ban on "tomboyish" behaviour and lesbian relations, there is also a risk of raids by the police on gay venues such as massage and fitness clubs, where foreign tourists had been arrested as well (avoid such venues!), only in the capital of Kuala Lumpur there is something like a gay infrastructure despite the repression
GAYSONTOUR advises against travels to Malaysia especially for gay and lesbian couples who don't like hide-and-seek during their holidays!
MALDIVES homosexuality is a strong taboo, penal law against homosexual acts is hardly practiced, no infrastructure, dominance of tourism creates some free space
PHILIPPINES there are no penal laws against homosexual acts, anyhow homosexuality is absolutely taboo, coming-outs and public debates on homosexuality are made difficult by the widespread culture of machismo, infrastructure only in the capital of Manila
SINGAPORE Buddhist influcence, penal law against homosexual acts is in force (up to 2 years in jail) but rarely practiced in the city state, the official policy to gay community life is restrictive, gay organisations are banned as well as gay media is being censored, but under the surface there is a gay commercial scene of bars, clubs and other venues which is obviously tolerated by the authorities, people of Singapore are considered as gay friendly and to foreign tourists the city comes across always as a very "gay" place
SRI LANKA Buddhist influence, homosexuality is absolutely taboo, but local gays are pretty much open towards foreign gay tourists, penal law against homosexual acts is hardly practiced, Hot Spots: tourist resorts
TAIWAN Buddhist influence, traditionally conservative society, no penal laws, mainly in rural areas homosexuality is still a strong taboo, but in larger cities visible gay communities with infrastructure are increasing in recent years, first of all the capital of Taipeh emerged as one of the most gay friendly cities in Asia with a bulk of bars and other venues, the annual gay pride there attracts more than 25.000 participants
VIETNAM Buddhist influence, country with heavy breakup atmosphere and strong western orientation, Vietnamese gays benefit from it, slowly increasing infrastructure in Ho Chi Minh-City (Saigon) and Hanoi, gay tourism can promote the trend
In many ASIAN countries homophobic attitudes are widespread and homosexuality is considered as a strong taboo. Gay life is mostly invisible and in the closet, partly homosexuals are punished by law or face oppression by police and authorities. This applies to following countries:
Armenia Georgia Azerbeidjan Uzbekistan Turkmenistan
Kyrgyzstan Tadjikistan Afghanistan Pakistan Bhutan
Bangladesh Kazakhstan Mongolia
In the following ISLAND STATES in the Pacific Ocean homosexuality is considered as a strong taboo and natural disorder, partly penal laws with years of imprisonment for gays are in force:
Tonga Fidji Samoa Tuvalu Solomon Islands Kiribati Nauru
North / Central America & Caribbean
CANADA very liberal climate, high level of acceptance, highly developed infrastructure in major cities, partnerships equal to civil marriage, Hot Spots: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary
COSTA RICA increasing acceptance, developped infrastructure, Hot Spots: San José and tourist resorts
CURACAO the island north of Venezuela is an independent part of the Netherlands, even though the progressive Dutch laws aren't in force the social climate is quite liberal, the island promotes itself as "gay friendly" to attract gay tourists, low infrastructure in the capital of Willemstad
PUERTO RICO the island state in the Caribbean is an independent state but closely associated with the USA, the most liberal country in the region, well developed infrastructure in the capital of San Juan
USA liberal climate in general and partly high level of acceptance with great differences between the federal states of the East and West Coast (more liberal) and the states of the Midwest as well as the Southern States (more conservative), the same between major cities and rural regions
individual freedom rights are very important, at the same time the influence of religion on politics and society is - compared to Western European standards - pretty much strong, moral conventions are highly ranked and serve as a popular "weapon" of conservatives against equal rights for homosexuals, especially the issue of "gay marriage" is a matter of heavy controversial and passionate debates in politics and media
as a consequence of the so-called "public moral" there is a widespread atmosphere of prudery which is even noticeable in states or cities considered as very liberal
despite more visibility in the media and some progress in their struggle for equal rights gay organisations observe recently an increasing homophobic blowback and a rising number of anti-gay hate crimes in the country, even in areas which are known as gay hot spots - it remains to be seen if the trend gets stronger
a few federal states as well as several city districts across the country have introduced different kinds of legal recognition of partnerships with less rights than civil marriage, only the states of Massachusetts (since 2004), Connecticut (November 2008), Iowa (April 2009) and Vermont (May 2009) allow civil marriage for gays, furthermore in New Hampshire, Maine and New York legislative initiatives are on the way (status: April 2009)
in November 2008 the civil marriage of gays in California, introduced in July 2008, has been suspended by a popular vote
already in 1996 the US Congress adopted the so-called "Marriage Protection Bill" reacting on the beginning debate about "gay marriage", till this day the law bans the recognition of "same-sex partnership laws" in single states by the federal government and their authorities, in the meantime 30 of the 50 federal states have introduced the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman in their constitutions which de facto means a ban on civil marriage for homosexuals
highly developed infrastructure and well organised gay communities everywhere with many lobby groups on federal as well as regional and local levels, gay issues are furthermore covered by a large number of print and other media as well as booming online networks
Hot Spots: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Houston, Denver, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Provincetown
BAHAMAS increasing tolerance as a result of strong impact of tourism from USA, but nevertheless repression by police didn't stop in recent years, low infrastructure in the capital of Nassau
CUBA slowly increasing tolerance and free spaces, no penal laws anymore, but sometimes police patrols at meeting points, since 2005 sporadic initiatives by parts of the state authorities to take measures against homophobia and even recognition of same-sex partnerships
in September 2010 the former state leader Fidel Castro surprised the public with an interview in the Mexican newspaper "La Jornada" when he called the prosecution of homosexuals in the 1960s and 70s as a "great injustice"
marginal infrastructure, gay life happens mostly within private domains
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC increasing tolerance in bigger cities and tourist resorts, no penal laws, infrastructure in the capital of Santo Domingo
MEXICO increasing acceptance especially in major cities and tourist resorts with a pretty developed infrastructure, homophobic attitudes in rural areas are still widespread, especially the Catholic Church is leading the oppostion to any rights for gays, since the beginning of 2010 same-sex couples in the capital district of Mexiko City are legally equal to civil marriage inclusive child adoption, although the law is valid only in the capital district with its 9 million of citizens (which is similar to a federal state) other Mexican states have to approve such gay partnerships, the law is considered by activists as a milestone on the way to equal rights in the whole country, Hot Spots: Mexiko City, Cancún, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco
In the following island states of the CARIBBEAN homophobic attitudes are less heavy than in the rest of the region, partly the laws of the mother countries to which they belong as former colonies are in force:
Aruba (Netherlands) Guadelopue (France) Martinique (France)
St. Martin (France/Netherlands)
In the following countries of CENTRAL AMERICA the social climate is extremely homophobic, partly gays face persecution by police even without penal laws for homosexual acts, hate crimes are reported:
Belize Guatemala Honduras according to the human rights organisation amnesty international the situation of homosexuals worsened recently, mainly activists have been kidnapped and even killed by squads, oftentimes protected by state authorities, according to serious reports since June 2009 at least 15 activists have been killed - state: December 2009 El Salvador Panama
Nicaragua in July 2008 the so-called "sodomy law" for consensual homosexual acts between adults was repealed
In various CARIBBEAN states the attitudes are extremely negative up to aggressive against gays, homosexual acts are punished with imprisonment, hate crimes are reported, "No Go" countries are:
Jamaica in recent years several lynchings of gays have been reported, even for homosexual tourists (who for instance make a stopover during their cruise) the situation can get life threatening, usually the police doesn't react or is even involved, the Time Magazine (New York) once described Jamaica as "the most homophobic country in the western hemisphere", even internationally known reggae and dancehall singers call out on killing gays in their songs Antigua & Barbuda Barbados Grenada
Trinidad & Tobago St. Kitts & Nevis Haiti
ARGENTINA increasing acceptance in the dominant catholic country (90%), well developed infrastructure in larger cities and especially in the capital of Buenos Aires which is booming as international gay friendly destination in recent years, since July 2010 homosexual partnerships are equal to civil marriage including right of adoption, with it Argentina is the first country in Latin America which legalizes same-sex-marriage nationwide
BRAZIL increasing acceptance, liberal atmosphere and well developed infrastructure in major cities, homophobic attitudes are widespread mainly in rural areas, country of great contradictions: while death squads in Rio de Janeiro are killing gay prostitutes and transsexuals millions of people are on the streets every year for Gay Pride in Sao Paulo, Hot Spots: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Florianópolis, Manaus, Salvador de Bahia
CHILE increasing acceptance and presence in the public, developed infrastructure in major cities, Hot Spots: Santiago de Chile, Valparaiso/Vińa del Mar
URUGUAY pretty high level of acceptance and liberal atmosphere, since 2008 legal recognition of partnerships (almost equal to civil marriage), developped infrastructure mainly in the capital of Montevideo
COLOMBIA increasing acceptance but still great influence of the conservative Catholic Church, well developed infrastructure in the capital of Bogotá
FRENCH GUYANA laws of the mother country France are in force, legal recognition of partnerships and prohibition of discrimination, anyhow, homophobic attitudes are widespread, low infrastructure
VENEZUELA increasing acceptance and tolerant climate, developed infrastructure in big cities, Hot Spot: Caracas
In the following countries homophobic attitudes are widespread, great influence of the extremely conservative Catholic Church, visible gay life and developed infrastructure mostly in major cities:
Bolivia Ecuador (Quito, Guayaquil) Paraguay Peru (Lima, Arequipa)
GUYANA homosexual acts are punished with years of imprisonment, people are predominantly homophobic
International Lesbian & Gay Association (ILGA), political lobby organization with member groups worldwide [Details]
International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission based in New York [Details]
About countries which are not listed we couldn't get information or they are not relevant at all for international tourism.
PHOTO CREDITS (top down):
Europe Pic 1 (detail) © Chris Johnson - Fotolia.com Pic 2 (detail) © Jürgen Bieniek
Africa/Middle East Detail © Photocase.com/designer111
Asia/Oceania Bild 1,2 (details) © Werner Schaeffer/dive-the-rainbow.com
South America Detail © Photocase.com/froodmat