Advice for LGBTI travellers
All travellers face risks overseas. Risks can be higher for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in some countries. This information aims to help minimise these risks.
This page provides general advice about:
- laws and customs of other countries
- violence and discrimination
- how to be safe in social situations
- tips before you go
Every county is unique in its approach to LGBTI people. It's your responsibility to get the facts first, and take steps to reduce your risks. Before you go, read our travel advisories. Contact the embassy or consulate for each of your destinations.
Be aware of the law
You're subject to all local laws and penalties in your destination. Some may appear harsh by Australian standards. Behaviour that's legal in Australia could be illegal in more conservative countries.
Be aware that authorities may apply local laws inconsistently. Authorities may actively or passively discriminate against LGBTI people.
- Same-sex relationships and activities might be legal in certain destinations, but illegal in others.
- Same-sex relationships and activities may be legal, but considered socially unacceptable.
- Some countries prohibit same-sex relationships and activities between males, but stay silent on females.
Transgender or intersex
Local laws are often silent on relationships involving transgender or intersex people. Laws regarding same-sex relationships may generally cover these relationships.
Some countries or regions have laws targeting people who dress or 'pose' as a person of another gender.
You may have difficulties travelling on a passport showing 'X' in the sex field. Especially when crossing international borders.
What happens if you break the local law
If people in your destination consider your behaviour offensive, you could find yourself in trouble. Authorities could fine, deport or extort you. You could be arrested or jailed.
In a small number of countries, you could be given the death penalty.
The Australian Government is limited how and when it can help if you're arrested or jailed overseas. See the Consular Service Charter.
How to reduce the risks
Research the laws, customs and attitudes of where you’re going. Follow the local laws. Even if you disagree with them.
- Understand what the local law says you can and can't do when you're there.
- Know what the legal protections are for LGBTI people in your destinations.
- Consider whether you are comfortable visiting a destination where you may be discriminated against.
We outline key risks and advice for LGBTI Australians for each destination. See the travel advisories for the destinations you're travelling to and through.
Violence and discrimination toward LGBTI travellers
In conservative destinations, people could target you for being LGBTI. You could be assaulted. You could be also be the victim of verbal abuse or discrimination.
In some countries, authorities may ignore victims of crime who were targeted due to being LBGTI. In some cases, authorities may themselves discriminate. Reporting a crime against you could even get you arrested or jailed.
- Consider avoiding public displays of affection. In some conservative destinations, even a small gesture could incite violence.
- Consider your clothing in the context of the culture you are visiting. This may require dressing more conservatively.
Our country-specific travel advisories will usually note where conservative dress standards apply. This includes places where the law dictates women must dress a certain way.
Be social safely
Find out about the safest places for social activities, including partying. Speak to other LGBTI travellers before you go.
Be wary of new friendships, especially those you make online or through dating apps. Criminals may target you because you're LGBTI. They may try to exploit or harm you.
Check out our travel advice on partying safely.
Final tips before you go
- Read the travel advice for the countries you plan to visit. Subscribe for updates.
- Choose a destination where you'll feel safe and comfortable being who your are. Be prepared for any issues you might face.
- Learn the laws and culture of where your going. Stay within the law, even if you strongly disagree with them.
- Research guidebooks and online forums that cover issues for LGBTI travellers in detail. Check out the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
- Leave a detailed itinerary with someone at home. Plan to keep in regular contact.
- Learn how to stay safe and take care of your health. See our general advice before you go.
- What you need to do if getting married overseas.
- What to do if you're sexually assaulted overseas.
- Understand how and when consular services can help.
- Read about the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
- Learn about sexual orientation laws and the Trans Legal Mapping Report (ILGA).
- Read LGBTI travel information and advice (US Government).
- See safety and health advice for LGBTI travellers (UK Government).
In many countries age, gender and sexual preferences can pose challenges. Understanding the culture and laws in your destination will help things go smoothly.