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Identities Abroad: LGBTQIA+

Identities Abroad: LGBTQIA+

The world is a colorful place, full of various peoples, cultures, and languages. However, the LGBTQIA+ community may not shine as brilliantly in some places. In certain parts of the world, LGBTQIA+ people face discrimination, dismissal, and threats to their livelihood. However, other countries are accepting of and celebrate LGBTQIA+ individuals. Although different countries have varying laws, attitudes, and support when it comes to LGBTQIA+ identity, this does not preclude you from traveling and pursuing a successful global social work experience. The Office of Global Activities is committed to ensuring your safety while also providing considerations to determine how to best navigate your LGBTQIA+ identity while traveling abroad.

Questions to Consider

  • What are the laws and attitudes regarding homosexuality and gender expression in my host country?
  • What protections do I have, if any, as a person who identifies as LGBTQIA+ in my host country?
  • Is it safe for me to be out as LGBTQIA+ while abroad?
  • How open do I want to be about my sexuality/gender identity while abroad?
  • Do my forms of identification (passport, ID, etc.) reflect my current gender identity and expression? If not, how will this affect going to places that require ID (such as currency exchanges, airports, bars/any alcohol serving places)?
  • Does my host country offer LGBTQIA+ inclusive medical care?
  • Am I traveling to a country that speaks a language without the terms to explain my sexual or gender identity?
  • Are gender-neutral, family, or one-room restrooms relatively accessible in my host country? If not, which gendered restroom will I use? How will I cope if I have to use a restroom
  • Fithat does not align with my gender identity?
  • Although my host country might be LGBTQIA+ friendly, are there certain regions that are not?
  • Will I share my identity with the organization or agency I work with, if applicable? Would I be in danger if they discovered my identity while I was there?


  • Do your research. Familiarize yourself with your host country's customs and views towards LGBTQIA+ individuals. It may be helpful to know the terms and definitions used in the host country to discuss LGBTQIA+ issues.
  • Know your rights. Understand what protections you have as, for instance, a transgender traveler going through a U.S. airport, but remember that you are ultimately bound to your host country's laws. Know what protections you do or do not have there as an LGBTQIA+ person.
  • Set personal boundaries. Decide who you feel comfortable coming out to, but also know that you don't have to come out to anyone.
  • Identify the LGBTQIA+ community in your host country if possible. Know what resources are available to LGBTQIA+ identifying folks in your community.
  • Identify your support system. Know who to contact if you have concerns about your safety or are in danger. Find allies and safe spaces abroad, as well.


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