In order to help LGBTQ+ tourists travel safely, the German portal Spartacus started publishing the Gay Travel Index in 2012. In the 2023 edition, the ranking compared 203 countries and territories based on the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people in each location.
According to the index, Malta ranks first worldwide as the safest and most open country for LGBT+ travelers in 2023. It is the only country to receive a score of 13, simultaneously scoring points for its inclusive laws and rights – including anti-discrimination laws, its stance on transgender rights and the fact adoption is allowed – as well as not losing any points for discrimination, such as through anti-gay laws, religious influences or pride being banned. It does lose one point, however, for hostility among locals.
Canada and Switzerland also rank highly on the index with 12 points each, while the United States performs slightly worse with only five points, ranking alongside South Africa, Slovenia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Greece, Costa Rica and Brazil. The U.S. lost one point under the Murders category as well as for Religious Influence and scored 0 points for its stance on so-called “conversion therapy”, the equal age of consent, intersex rights and transgender rights. When looking at a ranking of US states, California, New York, Washington, and Colorado ranked among the most open.
At the other end of the spectrum, Saudi Arabia, Iran, the Republic of Chechnya in Russia and Afghanistan each received -19 points, signaling that they are dangerous countries for LGBT+ travelers, where homosexuals are persecuted and killed.
The Middle East and North Africa are the regions least safe for LGBTQ+ travelers, while Latin America proves to be generally more welcoming than much of Asia – with the exception of Taiwan which scores highly (9). India also appears in green on the map, having improved from 1 point in 2021 to 4 points in 2023, while Malaysia hit a low -13 and Indonesia sank from 117th to 159th place following a new criminal law influenced by fundamentalism.
To develop the index, the creators looked at 17 categories ranging from marriage for all to the death penalty for LGBTQ+ people. According to the authors of the report, the index is intended with all kinds of travelers in mind, including those looking to travel to countries where the LGBT+ community is an accepted and loved part of society as well as for those consciously looking to travel to a country in order to enter into a dialogue with the oppressed local queer community.
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