After the gay marriage comes the honeymoon
When I first met my partner, Andrew, I joked with friends that he was ‘husband’ material. Over 20 years he has proved me right but at the beginning I never imagined ever having the choice to get married in our own country. As of this weekend that’s all changed with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act becoming operational in England and Wales (and by the end of year in Scotland).
Venturing out into the world for the first time as Mrs & Mrs or Mr & Mr, these pioneering couples will most likely experience the first reactions to their new status on their honeymoon. What can and should they expect?
Right now the world seems to be dividing into countries where gay people are welcome and those where we are not. Equal marriage is legal in 16 countries with civil unions in seven more but there are 82 countries where being gay is still a criminal offence. Russia has criminalised the promotion of homosexuality to anyone under 18 and India has gone backwards and recently re-criminalised homosexuality.
Research by Out Now Consulting in 2010 found that three out of four gay travellers worried about the reception they would receive at their hotel on holiday, and we know from our own research that this anxiety increases with travel beyond big cities.
With this backdrop it is easy to understand why a honeymooning gay or lesbian couple might want to travel to a tried and tested gay resort or an anonymous city chain hotel but what if you wanted to head for the hills of ANDALUCIA or the HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND and stay in romantic boutique hotels or island hop across the GREEK ISLANDS.
I have not encountered hostility when traveling as a couple off the beaten track, but I have experienced clear discomfort on the part of hotel staff and owners. Feeling anything less than totally welcome at your hotel on any holiday especially a honeymoon is unacceptable and bad start to married life.
FURTHER AFIELD, A COLLECTION OF HAND-PICKED GAY FRIENDLY PLACES TO STAY, was set up because gay travellers are as diverse in their travel interests as every other traveller but also, they were looking for the reassurance of a genuine welcome especially when travelling beyond cities. They weren’t looking for their towels to be tied into flamingos or any special treatment. They just wanted to be treated the same as everyone else. Same respect, same welcome whether they were travelling alone or with a partner on a romantic mini-break.
In the UK we have come a long way from the dark days of Section 28 all the way to gay marriage and honeymoons. And now with more and more same sex couples starting a family we are looking forward to the next big thing – the gay friendly family holiday. As well as a good husband, Andrew would make a great Dad.
Simon Forrester : Co founder of Further Afield www. furtherafield.com who has just launched a collection of places to GET MARRIED IN THE UK and HONEYMOON across the world.