As travelers’ season is approaching and many are planning their holidays abroad, in case you got bored with visiting the same cities and countries that are openly welcoming for LGBT+, and you feel a bit adventurous – the DH team has made a list of five unusual but gay-friendly places to visit. Keep in mind though that the ‘’unusual’’ part can refer to a couple of things: either the locations are a bit out of your ordinary holiday picks or the country is not exactly known for its LGBT+ openness, but does hide a few gems here and there. Hence a recommendation to do your own research in order to get familiar with the local culture and always look for reviews before you pack your bags!
1. Tokyo, Japan:
Even though only about 5% of Japanese people admit knowing someone who is LGBT+, and the general attitude towards homosexuality is conservative and homophobic (even within the community itself), the existence of Shinjuku Ni-chōme, the loudest and most crowded area in Tokyo, also known as Tokyo’s gay neighborhood, might make you feel otherwise. It’s home to one of the largest number of gay bars and night clubs in the world, and also offers plenty gay pride boutiques, love hotels, gay books and video stores and other gay-friendly touristic arrangements. The LGBT+ community in Tokyo is the biggest one on the entire Asian continent, so if you’re up for a trip to far east, Shinjuku Ni-chōme in Tokyo is a place to go!
2. Siem Reap, Cambodia:
While some of the LGBT+ sexual preferences are considered legal in Buddhist Cambodia, even culturally supported as the same-sex activity was never criminalized in the history of this country, many still do face legal issues, as the legislation of LGBT+ rights has not yet been enacted. In this field, Cambodia seems more accepting of LGBT+ tourists than its local communities. As an example, the once sleepy and quiet Cambodian city of Siem Reap, which became popular due to its location near the Angkor Wat temple ruins, is known for its welcoming attitude towards the LGBT+ community. It’s a highly tourist destination, with a strong international vibe, and is famous for being the gayest city in Asia. Siem Reap offers many gay bars, clubs and other gay-friendly venues, but also offers a historic adventure for those who seek that kind of a holiday.
3. Antigua, Guatemala:
A charming little village Antigua, surrounded by volcanoes in the central Guatemalan highlands, is known for its preserved Spanish colonial architecture. Despite Guatemala’s negative reputation when it comes to crime, Antigua is a very safe tourist destination. It’s a home of a small LGBT+ community within the village, but nothing organized, as they are mainly all friends who know each other and own several bars and restaurants. Basically, there is no active gay ’’scene’’ in Antigua and this place is perfect for those looking for some real peace and rest. If there’s a need for more party-like moments while in Antigua, the nearby Guatemala City is recommended!
4. Taormina, Sicily:
This location is famous for its beauty, rocky shores and cliffs and for its incredible historic heritage. Once a known gay village, visited by many LGBT+ icons, from Oscar Wilde to Truman Capote, Taormina today is not really the hottest gay spot. Within the relaxed and causal atmosphere, the LGBT+ community is able to socialize and attend bars, restaurants and other venues, but without too much fuss. There is no repression towards the LGBT+, but the general ‘’mind your own business’’ behavior is preferred. So, if you plan to pack your bags and head to Sicily, don’t forget to bring your laissez-faire attitude as well!
5. Novi Sad, Vojvodina (Serbia):
While LGBT+ sexual activities are legal in this Eastern-European autonomous province and discrimination based on sexual preferences is banned, the members of the LGBT+ community may encounter some legal challenges, in spite of having a married lesbian parent for a Prime Minister. But Novi Sad, the administrative center of Vojvodina (which until 1918 was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), shines a general welcoming image. It lies on the banks of the River Danube, with the iconic Petrovaradin Fortress being one of its most visited tourist sites. This Serbian medieval town is one of the most important cultural hubs in this part of the world. It reflects a slow and warm Mediterranean-like ambient, with some LGBT+ friendly spots, hotels and a vibrant street cafe culture. While the majority of ordinary people in Novi Sad don’t really care about one’s sexual life, there are far-right groups who are highly opinionated and are keen to show their homophobic feelings, so discretion in public is advised.
… and for those ready to experience something really unusual.
- Yes, we know – Pakistan! Not really a country that first comes to mind in relation to gay-friendliness, considering its criminalization of same-sex sexual acts, discrimination and social stigma. The Pakistani LGBT+ community is, however, able to socialize, organize and date, even live together as a couple, but they have to this with discretion, as many could be legally prosecuted. On the other side, there is sort of a saying that ‘’it is great to be gay in Pakistan’’, as sex is more than available and to support the latter comes the port city of Karachi with its ‘’a gay man’s paradise’’ reputation. On the outside, Karachi presents its strict social conformity, but underneath that façade lies a world of underground parties, group and same-sex sexual activities. So, if you are in the mood for some Pakistani experience, have an SS behavior in mind and consult your nearest gay travel guide!
While the destinations we picked for you are becoming more and more popular within the LGBT+ community – before booking your next holiday spot – the DH team strongly advises checking travel reviews, blogs and getting familiar with the local laws and customs. Once you have this sorted out, feel free to present your sexy-tourist-self among fun and friendly locals who are, step by step and in different ways, trying to improve and change their surroundings and create a more welcoming place for everyone!
Post Submitted by: M. Đaković