The world’s largest country is (RUSSIA) a tempting place to visit, with its centuries of literary and artistic greats, vast and varying landscapes, and iconic architecture. Travel in the North Caucasus can be dangerous (for LGBT )due to civil and political tension and criminal gangs, and although Moscow and St. Petersburg are becoming more established tourist destinations, they are experiencing a rise in violent hate crimes against racial and ethnic minority travelers. LGBT culture exists in the country, and though it isn’t illegal, ‘promotion‘ of LGBTQ lifestyles is.
“Located in the heart of Africa, Nigeria ranked as the #1 most dangerous country for members of the LGBTQ+ community. It was ranked so highly largely due to the extreme penalties for simply being gay, which include up to 14 years in prison and the death penalty in states under Sharia law,” says Fergusson. “The mere discussion of LGBT rights is criminalized under the current system. Under Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2013, the country has seen an increase in violence and extortion against the LGBTQ+ community.”
“Coming in second on our LGBTQ+ Danger Index is Qatar,” says Fergusson. “This oil-rich Middle Eastern country enforces up to three years in prison, flogging and the death penalty under Sharia law for any acts of homosexuality. Tourism to Qatar is expected to skyrocket for the 2022 World Cup—which is to take place there—and suspending anti-LGBT laws during the tournament has been discussed, though ultimately rejected by the Qatari government.”
“In Yemen, the punishment for being gay for both men and women is prison time and 100 lashes, with death by stoning for married men,” says Fergusson. “This conservative Muslim country means business when it comes to rejecting homosexuality, both in its laws and general public sentiment. Refugee Legal Aid Information highlights Yemen’s hostile attitudes toward their largely underground LGBT community.”
“Saudi Arabia is another of the countries on our list which implements the death penalty for consensual homosexuality under their interpretation of Sharia law,” says Fergusson. “Other punishments include 100 whips or banishment for one year ‘Men behaving as women’ or wearing women’s clothes, and vice versa, is also illegal in Saudi Arabia, making this a particularly unfriendly country for members of the trans community.”
“This East African country is renowned for its remarkable natural attractions, including Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti National Park, making Tanzania a massive hub for international tourism. Unfortunately, this country was ranked at #5 on our LGBTQ+ Danger Index, which may inspire LGBTQ+ visitors to rethink their travel plans,” says Fergusson. “In Tanzania, any homosexual acts result in 30 years to life in prison, and there has been a recent government crackdown on LGBT activity within the country.”
“Iran made #6 on the index, due in part to its extreme punishments for homosexuality, which include 100 lashes for homosexual intercourse or the death penalty, and 31 lashes for same-sex acts other than intercourse,” says Fergusson. “According to the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), ‘An open and free life in a same-sex partnership is unthinkable in the Islamic Republic.’ In regards to LGBTQ+ travel to Iran, travelers will want to be cautious and avoid any public displays of affection.”
“An African nation bordering the stunning Red Sea, Sudan is particularly unfriendly to the LGBTQ+ community. The first two accounts of sodomy result in 100 lashes and five years in prison, and the third offense earns either the death penalty or life in prison,” says Fergusson. “Publicly, homosexuality is a taboo topic, so LGBTQ+ travelers choosing to visit Sudan should proceed with caution and remain discreet with regards to their sexuality. It is also recommended to be extremely careful when inviting guests into your hotel room, as this can potentially spark legal complications.”