Tools to help the LGBTQ community travel more safely
A new Canadian-made online tool is the latest option to aid in choosing welcoming destinations
For the worldwide LGBTQ community, Canada can seem to have an enviable reputation as a place to put down roots. While not perfect, LGBTQ people largely have their rights protected under our Charter with a steady evolution in a positive direction. But every member of our community knows this one simple rule when contemplating travel: proceed with caution. Unlike our straight counterparts we're not just looking at the best B&B or all inclusive, we are we are looking for assurances of safety, acceptance and human rights.
In one place, gay marriage might be legal but there may be a very unwelcoming culture of homophobia. In another, there can be a high risk of anti-LGBTQ violence, others where homosexual acts can still be greeted with the penalty of death. Beyond personal safety, our travel decisions may bear responsibility when it comes to the less fortunate members of our minority group: perhaps we should not spend our money in / fund the governments of nations lacking in the human rights and equality department. Researching destinations with criteria like this can be exhausting and difficult. Lucky for us, there's some new Canadian-made technology that can help.
The site describes itself as quote: "a data-driven search tool designed to help travellers understand LGBTQ+ laws, rights and social sentiment around the world."
It aggregates global data "across six key metrics of acceptance, including marriage equality, sexual activity laws, and civil liberties (e.g., blood donation and adoption)."
Then it indexes the data. Basically, the more rainbow flag you see the better. The colourful graph gives destinations a score out of 100, helping travellers 'flag' unsafe or unaccepting places.
Here's a sampling of worldwide destinations:
If you're more of a homebody, Canada is included too with some surprising variations. Take a look at the results from this country's capital cities. Shoutout to Winnipeg leading the way!
Maybe the site's most important feature? The discussion forum where members of the community can relay their experiences in the highlighted destination, digitizing the word of mouth tradition the LGBTQ community has relied on for decades.
This tool is not your only resource in planning safe travel if you're part of the LGBTQ community. There are agencies that specialize in LGBTQ travel like IGLTA (The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association), which is great for planning trips online. If you prefer a more one-on-one experience, try seeking out travel agencies in gay villages around the globe, they will usually have a primary focus on serving the community they are in and a broader knowledge base on LGBTQ concerns.
Want to go mobile? There are a plethora of gay travel apps like Mister B&B: centred on short term gay friendly accommodation or the GayCities app: combining social networking and local recommendations.
While broad interpretations of geographical LGBTQ acceptance are helpful, sadly we must still consider that homophobia and violence against minorities can occur in even the most progressive places on Earth. These applications and tools certainly help reduce the risk but do not negate it completely.