Asia’s top gay-friendly destinations

BANGKOK, 11 December 2019: Taiwan is the most LGBTQ+ friendly destination in Asia according to the latest survey ‘LGBTQ+ Danger Index’ conducted by travel bloggers and researchers Asher and Lyric Fergusson.

Taiwan gained a score of +181 in the research with Nepal the second-highest scorer in Asia with +134 points identifying them as the most friendly LGBTQ+ (*) destinations in the region.

First reported by the Guardian newspaper, the research identified Sweden as the top destination worldwide followed by Canada, Norway, Portugal and Belgium, out of 150 countries surveyed.

But the LGBTQ+ Danger Index revealed that most Asian destinations achieved mid-table rankings with Malaysia the exception dropping into the lowest zone on the table with a score of minus 117. It was labelled the ninth-worst destination for gay travellers.

Other Asian destinations that fared poorly in the index included the Maldives with a score of -100, Sri Lanka minus 94 and Myanmar minus 91.

Surprisingly, Singapore’s performance in the ‘Danger Index’ registered a minus 19 while Indonesia was also in the red with a minus 16.

Macau had a zero score neither here or there while Vietnam, a rising star in tourism, gained a positive score of +30 and Cambodia recorded +31.

Other plus performers in Asia included, the Philippines with a score of +60, Hong Kong +59 and South Korea +50. India, Thailand and Laos all gained scores in the positive +40s band, while Japan scored plus 35.

The highest scores declared the winners,  leading off with Sweden with +322 points. It was a stark contrast with Nigeria the worst destinations for LGBTQ+ travellers that languished with a negative score of  -142.

The LGBTQ+ Danger Index was created by ranking the 150 most-visited countries using eight factors, including legalised same-sex marriage, worker protection and whether, based on Gallup poll findings, it is a good place to live.

The researchers, Asher and Lyric Fergusson write a blog about staying safe while travelling. They posted the results of their latest findings on the website https://www.asherfergusson.com/lgbtq-travel-safety/.

The couple acknowledges that some of the indicators they looked at, such as worker protections and adoption recognition, do not affect travellers directly, but point out that rights enshrined in law are a good overall indication of a country’s attitudes.

The husband and wife team told the Guardian newspaper, “they  were inspired to compile the list to help the LGBTQ+ community and raise awareness of the often horrific treatment of LGBT people in many parts of the world.”

Of the 150 countries featured in the research, same-sex relationships are illegal in 38 of the countries on the list and punishable by death in five (Nigeria, Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran).

Brunei was not included in the survey due to the small tourism base, but the authors did post a warning flag in their explanatory notes due to draconian laws on those involved in a same-sex relationship.

The researchers presented recommendations and tips at the close of the report.

They concluded: “Those looking for trans- and gay-travel-safe countries should reconsider popular vacation destinations like Malaysia, Singapore, Morocco, Myanmar and Egypt, as well as beach destinations in the Caribbean such as Saint Lucia and Barbados.”

They also pointed out that in some countries where homosexuality is not actually illegal, treatment of LGBTQ+ people is so bad that caution or complete avoidance is advised.

These countries include China, where certain groups and events have been banned, and censorship laws have frequently been used to remove online LGBT content.

In Russia, activists have died or gone missing, and individuals who followed Russian gay marriage laws to the letter have been forced to flee the country.

Also in Indonesia, LGBTQ+ rights are increasingly considered a threat to “moral and cultural values ” and homosexuality can result in public humiliation and arrests.

The researchers acknowledged that even in some of the 70 countries in the world where same-sex relationships are illegal, certain cities, tourist areas and resorts could be LGBT-friendly.

“In all cases, do your research, check official government data for up-to-date news, and if you feel apprehensive, consider travelling to a more LGBTQ+ friendly country.”

The following Asian countries are not in the top 150 most visited by international tourists, so they have not been included in the LGBTQ+ Danger Index survey. However, same-sex relationships are illegal in Bhutan, Brunei and Bangladesh.

(*) LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (still exploring). and the plus sign signifies pansexual.

(Source: Guardian and the Fergusson blog)