The best gay-friendly destinations in Asia

Taiwan is the most LGBTQ+ friendly destination in Asia according to the latest survey conducted by bloggers and researchers Asher and Lyric Fergusson. Taiwan scored +181 in the research, with Nepal being the second highest scorer in Asia with +134 points identifying them as the most LGBTQ+ friendly destinations in the region.

Famous scenic Maya Bay beach at Ko Phi Phi Leh Island with two traditional longtail taxi boats mooring and steep limestone hills in background, Thailand, part of Krabi Province, Andaman Sea

A tour of Asia’s most beautiful gay destinations

First reported by the Guardian newspaper, the research identified Sweden as the top global destination, followed by Canada, Norway, Portugal and Belgium, out of 150 countries surveyed.

But the LGBTQ+ Danger Index found that most Asian destinations reached the middle rankings, with Malaysia falling to the bottom of the table with a score of minus 117. It was ranked as the ninth worst destination for gay travelers.

Other Asian destinations that scored poorly in the index included the Maldives with a score of -100, Sri Lanka minus 94 and Myanmar minus 91. One must be careful with the result, however, as the Gay Traveler visited Sri Lanka and Myanmar and in no way was homophobia discussed during a visit for the creation of the various gay guides. On the contrary!

Surprisingly, Singapore’s performance in the “Danger Index” registered a minus 19 while Indonesia was also in the red with a minus 16.

Macau scored zero neither here nor there while Vietnam, a rising star in tourism, scored a positive +30 and Cambodia recorded +31.

Other top performers in Asia included the Philippines with a score of +60, Hong Kong +59 and South Korea +50. India, Thailand and Laos all earned scores in the positive +40 band, while Japan scored +35.

The highest scores declared the winners, led by Sweden with +322 points. This was in stark contrast to Nigeria, the worst destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers who languished with a negative score of -142.

The LGBTQ + Danger Index was created by ranking the 150 most visited countries using eight factors, including legalized same-sex marriage, worker protections and whether, according to Gallup survey results, it’s a good place to live.

The couple acknowledges that some of the indicators they looked at, such as worker protections and adoption recognition, do not directly affect travelers, but point out that rights enshrined in law are a good overall indication of a country’s attitudes.

The husband and wife team told the Guardian newspaper, “They were inspired to compile the list to help the LGBTQ+ community and raise awareness of the often horrific treatment of LGBT people in many parts of the world.”
Of the 150 countries surveyed, same-sex relationships are illegal in 38 of the countries on the list and punishable by death in five (Nigeria, Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran).

Brunei was not included in the survey due to the small tourist base, but the authors displayed a warning flag in their explanatory notes due to draconian laws on those involved in same-sex relationships.

The researchers offered recommendations and advice at the end of the report. They concluded, “Those seeking safe countries for trans and gay travel should reconsider popular vacation destinations such as Malaysia, Singapore, Morocco, Myanmar and Egypt, as well as Caribbean beach destinations such as St. Lucia and Barbados.”

They also pointed out that in some countries where homosexuality is not actually illegal, the treatment of LGBTQ+ people is so bad that caution or complete avoidance is advised.

These countries include China, where certain groups and events have been banned, and censorship laws have often been used to suppress LGBT content online.

In Russia, activists have died or disappeared, and individuals who have followed Russian same-sex marriage laws to the letter have been forced to flee the country.

Also in Indonesia, LGBTQ+ rights are increasingly seen as a threat to “moral and cultural values,” and homosexuality can result in public humiliation and arrest.

The researchers acknowledged that even in some of the 70 countries around the world where same-sex relationships are illegal, some cities, tourist areas and resorts could be LGBT-friendly.

“In any case, do your research, check official government data for up-to-date information, and, if you feel concerned, consider traveling to a more LGBTQ + friendly country.”

The following Asian countries are not among the top 150 most visited by international tourists, so they were not included in the LGBTQ + Danger Index survey. However, same-sex relationships are illegal in Bhutan, Brunei and Bangladesh.

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