Post last updated on 8/22/2016.
Attitudes and laws toward the LGBT community around the world can be very different from those in the United States. And while most LGBT travelers won’t experience any issues abroad, without proactive planning your LGBT travelers—and your organization—could be at risk. Share this information with your LGBT travelers to help them prepare for a safer trip abroad.
Research Your Destination: You should always know the cultural landscape in your destination, but it is particularly important for LGBT travelers. Just because a same-sex relationship may be legal in one country, it does not mean it’s accepted by all. For example, there may not be rules against homosexuality in a specific country, but it could still frowned upon and visitors may be targets of hate crimes if affection is displayed in public. To gain a better understanding of your host country, visit the world map on the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s website. This website also provides detailed information about laws that exist in that country and the latest news. Another great resource is the annual Human Rights Report provided by the U.S. State Department, which provides information on how sexual orientation and gender identity is viewed throughout the world.
Book Smart: Make sure to extensively research and book all hotels ahead of time. Some places may refuse to let LGBT individuals stay with them. Whether you’re strictly on business or tacking a few extra days onto your trip to relax, there are several resources available as you plan. The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) is an organization that specializes in hotels and destinations that are safe for the LGBT community. They can also assist with the booking process if your company does not have an in-house travel agency. The well-known site, Out Traveler, is full of updated destination-specific information, hotels, and tips for your next trip. Tag Approved allows you to find hotels that have been approved as LGBT friendly based on criteria like equal rights and non-discrimination policies.
Paperwork Preparation: Prior to departure, visit the U.S. State Department’s Country Specific Information pages. Each country page will tell you which specific documents are required. For example, the State Department recommends that all LGBT travelers carry custody papers for minor children traveling with them. If you are recently married or in the process of changing your name, review the change of name guidelines. For those who are in the process of or have completed a gender reassignment, review the identification requirements for gender reassignment applications. Enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and download the Smart Traveler App to have emergency information at your fingertips. After completing the short form online, you’ll automatically receive travel warnings and alerts. Make sure to fill out the emergency contact section which can help the U.S. Consulate or Embassy find you during a crisis.
Have an Emergency Plan: It’s important to remember that not all countries have safeguards in place to protect the LGBT community and may even have laws against LGBT individuals. Prior to travel, discuss the best plan of action with your employer should issues arise. Make sure you are provided with a designated contact that you can reach in the event of an emergency as well as the number to your company’s travel risk management firm. If you do find yourself in trouble, but are uncomfortable approaching local authorities, review the U.S. Citizens section of your destination’s U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate. Consulate officers work to protect privacy and will not pass judgment or make accusations. Program the number(s) to the local Consulate for each country you are visiting into your phone before you leave.
With some research and proactive planning, you can help your LGBT travelers have a safe and enjoyable trip abroad—and we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our holistic travel risk management programs.