Here’s what you should know if you’re LGBTQ+ and traveling to Asia


Protesters carry the LGBTQ+ flag in India. Source: Shutterstock

PLANNING a vacation is almost as exciting as actually being on vacation.

Deciding where to go, planning your outfits, asking others for recommendations – just so you can humbly brag about your upcoming trip – and spending hours looking at glorious Instagram pictures from people who are already there.

For most people, booking a vacation is as simple as researching, deciding, and booking. But for many others, spending time researching other nation’s laws and legislation forms the first part of their decision process.


Because those who identify within the LGBTQ+ community still face discrimination and persecution in 72 countries around the world.

The below shows where in the world it is still illegal to be gay, where gay marriage is legalized and identifies the grey areas in between.

Such as where there are no laws against homosexuality, but the nations are openly intolerant.

New legislation is constantly being introduced and revoked. For example, Indonesia is considering reinstating a law that would re-criminalize homosexuality, whereas Australia has recently legalized gay marriage.

But being openly gay in 72 countries around the world can land you a stint in prison, from month-long sentences to life imprisonment.

In Iran, Saudi Arabi, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan the severe punishment of death is enforced for being gay. What do all these countries have in common? They are conservative.


The updated map of LGBTQ+ laws around the world. Source: Travel Wire Asia

Within Asia, it is illegal to be openly gay in Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, and India. On the map, these nations are marked in red.

Those marked in teal signify the nations that not only allow people to be openly gay but also let them get married.

Because everybody, no matter their sexual orientation, should have the right to get married.

Orange countries signify nations where homosexuality is legal, and there are laws in place to protect those in the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination.

Nations coded in purple, such as Thailand, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea and Nepal, mean homosexuality is legal, but there are only a few protections for those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Now for the uglier side of things

Blue nations such as Indonesia and China state that homosexuality is not illegal, but there are now laws to protect those in the gay community – meaning people who identify as LGBTQ+ can be discriminated against.

In nations marked in green such as Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, homosexuality is legal by default.

This means those states have never enacted legislation specifically outlawing it. So, it is not “officially illegal” to be gay but there are no laws to protect you from discrimination, prejudice and harsh treatments by officials.

Orange countries are essentially red. But because there is no official law, they just sit ominously while not protecting their citizens.

Where should you travel if you belong to the LGBTQ+ community

Do not limit yourself to traveling to countries where homosexuality is legal.

Travel the world but be mindful of how you are perceived and how you act. In countries like Malaysia, it is not only those in the LGBTQ+ community who can be prosecuted.

Anyone who displays indecent signs of public affection, straight or gay, can be called up by the authorities. This is because under Malaysian law if you “offend” some through “obscene acts”, you can be punished.

However, this is unlikely to happen, but just be mindful of your surroundings and don’t parade the fact you’re as gay as James Banham, founder of The-F, tells Six-Two after visiting Indonesia.

“You wouldn’t want to wave the fact you’re a homosexual in the face of anyone. Don’t do that and you’ll stay in everyone’s good books.”

While we agree that you shouldn’t have to hide your sexual orientations, it’s wise to remember that you’re not vacationing with the purpose of promoting awareness around LGBTQ+ communities.

The best way to choose your next vacation destination is by informing yourself, as James explains, “Don’t be arrogant. Know where you’re going and brush up on the laws.”

In a world where so much hate and discrimination, it is important to stand up for what you believe in. But there is also a time and a place for this, which is most probably not while you’re on your vacation.