Should we promote hotels in countries where being gay is illegal?
Huge strides in LGBT rights have been happening across Europe and the US. Gay marriage in France and equal rights for gay couples in the US. For many of us it is easy to forget that being gay is still illegal in 76 countries, and that in some it is punishable by imprisonment and even execution. Amnesty International recently highlighted the GROWTH IN CRIMINAILSATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY across Africa.
Many of us may have travelled in some of those countries without even realising and without any problems. Morocco, Malaysia and Sri Lanka are popular destinations where being gay is still technically illegal.
So what should FURTHER AFIELD as a gay owned business do when a hotel in one of those countries wants to be on our website of gay owned and gay friendly places to stay. We have recently been approached by a hotel in Malaysia where some of the staff are gay.
Our broad first principle is that boycotting countries where homosexuality is illegal is unhelpful to change for the better. If we turn our backs on these countries and the gay people already living there and effectively discourage LGBT travel then we will not help move things on. Engagement is key.
But we feel that we must balance this with a responsibility to you, the LGBT traveller and evaluate each country and each hotel on a case by case basis. So while it might be difficult to encourage you to holiday in Uganda, we feel that a tried and tested hotel in Morocco where we have travelled extensively without problems would be acceptable for us to recommend to you.
Interestingly the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office dosn’t list the countries where homosexuality is illegal but it does provide some very helpful ADVICE FOR LGBT TRAVELLERS on its website.
We are really keen to hear what you think about this. It will help us shape our policy and practice.
Simon Forrester is the co-owner and founder of FURTHER AFIELD – hand-picked gay friendly places to stay