IT LOOKS like any map of the world - but this picture warns of dangers travellers need to beware.

The map released by insurance company Travel Insurance Direct identifies countries and territories according to how tolerant - or outright hostile - they are to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, including visiting Australians.

It comes as controversial anti-gay laws are still being considered in Indonesia - home to Australia's favourite overseas holiday spot, Bali - and amid abuses against LGBTI people that have turned Australian travellers against visiting the country.

This map reveals what LGBTI travellers should know about the countries they are visiting. Picture: Travel Insurance Direct/Forktip
This map reveals what LGBTI travellers should know about the countries they are visiting. Picture: Travel Insurance Direct/Forktip

Indonesia's proposed laws, which were expected to be decided on in February but have been delayed, would impose a total ban on gay sex and have been met with local support.

The country has been criticised by the UN human rights chief in recent months because of rising intolerance against the LGBTI community, including the recent public shaming of a group of transgender hairdressers.

But Indonesia is far from the only country in which LGBTI travellers could be at risk.

Picture: Travel Insurance Direct
Picture: Travel Insurance Direct

There are 72 countries and territories worldwide that criminalise same-sex relationships, including 45 in which sexual relationships between women are outlawed, as indicated on the map.

The death penalty applies for homosexuality in eight of those countries, while in dozens of others, homosexuality can result in jail time.

Picture: Travel Insurance Direct
Picture: Travel Insurance Direct

This is what all the colours mean, the laws that will affect LGBTI travellers and what attitudes they can expect.

RED

Countries in red on the map, which include large swathes of Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, outlaw homosexuality. This also includes Australia's nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, where same-sex acts can result in imprisonment.

For LGBTI travellers, these countries are likely to be the biggest danger zones.

ORANGE

Countries in orange, which include travel destinations such as Vietnam and Madagascar, have no laws against homosexuality but are considered intolerant towards LGBTI people.

"They have never enacted legislation specifically outlawing it," travel expert Phil Sylvester from Travel Insurance Direct said.

"It's perhaps more accurate to describe the legal situation as 'not officially illegal' - excuse the double negative.

"[Travellers can] expect discrimination, prejudice and harsh treatment by officials and society as a whole. For lack of an official law these places would be marked red, too."

An Indonesian man is one of two to be publicly caned for having sex in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in May 2017. Both men were sentenced to 85 strokes of the cane each. Picture: AFP/Chaideer Mahyuddin
An Indonesian man is one of two to be publicly caned for having sex in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in May 2017. Both men were sentenced to 85 strokes of the cane each. Picture: AFP/Chaideer Mahyuddin

YELLOW

Yellow countries, including China, Russia, Turkey and - at least for now - Indonesia, are only slightly better.

(While homosexuality isn't illegal in Indonesia right now, it is illegal in the Indonesian province of Aceh.)

"The countries marked yellow have legalised homosexuality, but there is no other protection for the LGBTQI community," Mr Sylvester said. "In fact there is often open societal hostility."

GREEN AND BLUE

Green countries have legalised homosexual acts and offer some legal protections, such as anti-discrimination laws. They include Mexico, Thailand and parts of eastern Europe.

Blue countries, such as Italy, Poland, Greece, the Czech Republic and Chile, "have legalised homosexuality and have a wide range, but not all, protections in place … but they're getting there," Mr Sylvester said.

PURPLE

Purple countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Brazil, South Africa and many countries in northern and western Europe have legalised same sex marriage and generally offer protection of rights of LGBTI people.

"Of course, you may still encounter individuals with intolerant attitudes but mostly the society is accepting and inclusive," Mr Sylvester said.

It can be confusing to know what to expect in many countries as national laws and local attitudes don't always match and often change.

"For example, in Russia, despite it legalising homosexual sex between men in 1993 (lesbian sex has never been illegal), in practice, you risk violence and discrimination if you are openly gay," Mr Sylvester said.

"Hungary legalised homosexuality in 1962, has allowed registration of same-sex unions since

1992 and has anti-gay discrimination laws. But in 2015 the mayor of Budapest called the gay

pride march 'repulsive'."

Gay pride parades have persisted in Belgrade, Serbia despite hostility and even violence. Picture: AFP/Oliver Bunic
Gay pride parades have persisted in Belgrade, Serbia despite hostility and even violence. Picture: AFP/Oliver Bunic

Mr Sylvester said Serbia was another country where homosexuality was technically legal but local attitudes didn't always follow.

"When I was in Belgrade in 2016 I witnessed the gay pride march which needed the (reluctant) protection of the riot squad, and saw many locals being abusive or openly showing their disgust at participants," he said.

Some countries may not have laws against homosexuality, but have other laws that can be used to target LGBTI people.

Russia has a law against "promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships" to minors, which may target behaviour that appears to promote LGBTI issues.

Similarly, while homosexuality is not currently illegal in Indonesia (except for Aceh), other laws, such as those regulating pornography and prostitution, may be used in a way that discriminates against the LGBTI community, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns.

For information on specific countries, travellers can visit DFAT's Smartraveller website, which also offers advice for LGBTI travellers


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