Russia tops the list of countries that LGBT travellers want to visit but feel they can’t go to, according to the results of a new survey.
Other destinations featured on this list, compiled by Gay Star News in partnership with TTG, included Egypt as well as Africa and the Middle East as wider regions.
While sexual acts between those of the same gender are not prohibited in Russia, the government has introduced a law banning “the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”, and there have been reports of an increase in homophobic attacks in Russia.
The results of the survey polling more than 2,000 global readers of Gay Star News were revealed at the TTG LGBT Conference, which was headline-sponsored by Valencia Tourism. It found Spain, France, Italy, the US and Canada were the destinations LGBT travellers most planned to visit in the next two years.
Personal safety is a huge issue for LGBT travellers, with 90% saying it was either “extremely important” or “important” when making travel plans.
The survey also found 5% of respondents had been the victim of a violent attack because of their sexuality or gender while travelling. More than a third (37%) had endured harassment or abuse, and more than a quarter had suffered discrimination or been refused a service.
Tris Reid-Smith, editor-in-chief of Gay Star News, said 64% of those surveyed would boycott destinations that discriminate against or criminalise LGBT people. “It’s quite stark – they feel these are countries that emphatically they should not go to,” he added. “But when you talk to LGBT people in these countries, they say ‘please don’t boycott’.”
On a more positive note, the LGBT community loves to go on holiday – taking an average of eight domestic breaks a year, accounting for a total of 10 days away, plus three overseas trips adding up to 12 days.
City breaks were the most popular type of holiday for LGBT consumers followed by beaches, countryside, adventure/active, festivals/sporting events and cruises.
The travel industry is also expected to take action to improve LGBT rights, with 79% of respondents saying companies within the sector should help to drive change around the world. These actions should include ensuring travel companies treat LGBT customers and LGBT staff equally, as well as promoting LGBT inclusion within the industry and LGBT rights worldwide.
“Listening to people on the ground is key, and there’s a high desire for the travel industry to support LGBT rights,” added Reid-Smith.