At Out Adventures, we love to bring you the most diverse gay tours on Earth, and we’ve done so since 2009. But some journeys bring travellers to nations less gay-welcoming than others.
When we tweeted about our Morocco Souks and Sand adventure, one follower replied, “Morocco? With serious anti-LGBTQ laws? Are you kidding me?”
On Facebook, another user asked, “Why would you go to a place…where you are against the law? Out Adventures should be ashamed promoting this…locals are sent to prison,” then went on to list the government’s anti-LGBTQ legislation.
A boycott may seem obvious, with homosexuality still illegal in 69 countries, but it may only hurt the people you’re rallying behind.
Consider these five questions to decide whether any land is worth a visit.
1. Am I safe?
When we plan tours, safety is always our first priority. We also consider how comfortable travellers will feel in a gay group setting. Beyond that, we believe ethical and moral travel decisions are up to you.
Consider how aggressive local laws may be. Are you safe if you avoid public affection? Are you unsafe simply being there?
2. Does my boycott support or harm the local community?
With an estimated $211 billion USD spent on leisure annually by our community, many believe traditional views will be trampled by the Pink Dollar.
However, democratic societies constantly sway left and right, while countries led by dictators or authoritarian regimes are unphased by foreign boycotts. Alas, those likely to suffer are the local communities you rallied behind. This is why we seek out LGBTQ-owned and welcoming businesses wherever we visit. We also take pride in the grassroots activism that comes with simply being there as a gay group, opening minds by defying preconceived notions.
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Morocco, but most Western tourists are unaffected by the law. There is, unfortunately, a distinction between what is acceptable for tourists and locals in Morocco.
3. Are a country’s equality laws really equal?
A country may accept gay men but be aggressively trans-phobic. Or, like North America, certain regions will be more liberal than others. Bali is an LGBTQ-welcoming Buddhist island, whereas Java is conservative and Muslim…where does that leave Indonesia?
Research how your rights – or lack thereof – could affect where you travel. Then decide whether politics outweigh culture.
Camel rides are a popular activity when travelling Morocco’s Sahara desert. Many wonders, however, if the experience comes at the cost of local LGBTQ rights.
4. Does leadership & legislation reflect popular opinion?
We’ve seen time and again that an elected government may not mirror the popular vote. So will the financial pressure of a boycott hurt anybody other than the local merchants you’d otherwise visit? Every homophobic nation has a queer community (however closeted) that could benefit from your visit.
Boycotting countries with anti-LGBTQ laws is a political statement with muddy benefits at best.
5. Do I want to mix politics with pleasure?
Of course, you should educate yourself on local customs and laws surrounding LGBTQ+ rights in a country, but how detailed you get is debatable. Some consider the moral impact of every dollar and cent. Others have more relaxed approaches to advocacy, generally spending in LGBTQ-welcoming establishments but not fretting beyond that. Travelling with LGBTQ tour operators such as Out Adventures takes the pressure off you to scrounge the internet for said LGBTQ-welcoming establishments, allowing you to maximize your vacation while giving you peace of mind your money is supporting local gay men, women and their allies.
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