Navigating the minefield of gay travel laws

It's why OutOfOffice.com has partnered with Equaldex to provide an up-to-date knowledge base on every page of our site as to a country's existing LGBT laws

It's no secret that LGBT individuals suffer hardships and prejudice throughout the world. But where exactly do we mean when we say 'throughout the world', and what hardships are we referring to? Whether you're looking to travel, move, or are simply curious, up to date knowledge of your rights is always important. Bringing further awareness to the challenges that LGBT individuals face is Dan Leveille, creator of LGBT rights knowledge website Equaldex (www.equaldex.com). With his site, Dan aims to create further understanding of equality and help those who are LGBT stay safe in their travels.

Dan Leveille from Equaldex

Could you give a rundown of what Equaldex actually does, and how it works?

Equaldex is a crowdsourced LGBT rights knowledge base. The site's primary goal is to collect information on every LGBT-related law across the world, and throughout history. Equaldex has legal profiles on every country and province, as well as extensive LGBT rights maps and timelines. The information is contributed, and verified by users. But laws are just the start – Equaldex also includes public opinion data on LGBT issues, as well as a database of LGBT organizations and news.

What inspired you to create Equaldex?

About six years ago, while I was in college, there was a period of time where several US states were on the brink of legalising gay marriage. I found myself often researching the status of legal of gay marriage in specific states and countries. I realized that there wasn't a quick and easy way to find information on LGBT laws across the globe. I wanted something simple, just a map that shows each LGBT law and where it's legal vs. illegal. I started thinking through the idea and realized that it was a much bigger project than that – it needed to be crowdsourced because I couldn't stay on top of all the laws changing.

How do you think Equaldex can help those looking to travel who are gay?

As an LGBT individual, understanding the LGBT laws in the country you're traveling to can be very important. Equaldex gives travellers a profile on the country they're travelling to so they can understand if homosexuality is legal and the status of other LGBT-related laws. But laws are just one part of the equation: Equaldex has also started to introduce public opinion data so that people can understand how the public feels about LGBT rights. For example, Equaldex has a terrific global survey from the Pew Research Center on the global acceptance of homosexuality. I'm hoping to add more public data soon so it can help paint a better picture of each country and province.

In which country do gay men and women have the most rights, and in which country the least?

This is really tough to answer, but Spain is definitely a top contender. Homosexuality was decriminalised back in 1979 and gay marriage has been legal since 2005, making it the third country to legalise same-sex marriage. The country also allows same-sex couples to adopt, has LGBT discrimination protections, and allows LGBT individuals to serve openly in the military. Spain consistently ranks among the most LGBT-friendly countries in global surveys about opinions on LGBT people. The UK is also up there.

It's also tough to determine which countries are the worst for LGBT people, especially if you look at it from a legal standpoint, because sometimes laws are ambiguous or not enforced. Many countries in Africa “” like Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana to just name a few “” have horrible conditions for LGBT people. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and other countries in the Middle East are also very difficult for LGBT people, many with the death penalty or life in prison as punishment for being gay. Indeed you have already written about the reality of being gay in the United Arab Emirates.

Through Equaldex, have you discovered any facts about gay rights that have surprised or shocked you?

China surprisingly became the second country to ban gay conversion therapy recently (Brazil was first in 1999). Also, there are quite a few countries where homosexuality is illegal for men, but not for women. Grenada, Palau, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea are just a few of the places where the law is this way.

What do you ultimately hope to achieve with Equaldex?

I've come to realize that a lot of people don't realise how difficult life is for LGBT people in other parts of the world. It's horrible that some people have to lose friends or even family, but in some countries you can be put to death for being gay. Putting the LGBT movement in a global perspective is so important and Equaldex is a perfect way to get people to understand the global status of LGBT rights. Data is powerful, and Equaldex presents the LGBT movement in a visual and compelling way, making it easier to understand.

OutOfOffice.com uses Equaldex throughout our website to ensure you are equipped with up-to-date knowledge on your rights in every country. For more information regarding a specific country you are looking to travel to, visit the relevant country page on our 'Destinations' dropdown and scroll down to 'The Law' section or contact us using the enquiry form or live chat on the site.

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