Today’s Guest Post is by Stefan and Sébastien, who blog at Nomadic Boys. They have been together for over 10 years, and have been travelling around the world since they left their lives and jobs in London in 2014.
We are gay French/Greek couple Stefan and Sebastien. We met in London and left our lives/jobs in 2014 to travel the world. Our gay travel blog Nomadic Boys grew off the back of this ongoing adventure, which began in Asia. Overall, Asia is not the most gay friendly place to visit. Being gay in most countries in Asia is hard. If it’s not criminalised, then it’s certainly a huge taboo, which negatively affects your life.
Nonetheless, we strongly believe that getting out there and experiencing such a beautiful part of the world is far more productive than simply refusing to visit altogether. Here’s our four reasons why we think gay couples should travel to Asia, based on our first-hand experience:
Safety: It is just as safe for gay couples as it is for straight
Whilst being gay is a crime which can theoretically get you arrested in places like Malaysia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka and sadly many more, in reality, these laws are rarely enforced, especially against tourists. For us, at no stage during our travels across Asia did we feel threatened or in danger for being gay.
The harsh reality is that tourism is big business, so foreigners more often than not are treated more favourably than locals despite the repressive LGBTQ laws.
There are many gay friendly places to visit in Asia
Dismissing the entire continent of Asia as being anti-gay is slightly naïve. There are several places which are well known for welcoming LGBTQ tourists with open arms, like Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and Bali in Indonesia.
We particularly loved Thailand, where we felt extremely comfortable being openly gay as a couple in some of the touristic islands, and especially in Bangkok. Bali is so touristy and international that is has developed an open minded and relaxed attitude towards the gay community, compared to the rest of Indonesia. As a result, there’s a vibrant gay presence across the island, particularly in Seminyak.
Taiwan is another gay friendly destination, famous for having the largest gay pride in Asia: Taipei Pride.
Japan is also a favourite of ours, with a fun gay scene in Tokyo, which has over 300 small gay bars in the Ni-Chōme area of Shinjuku.
Finally, the Philippines, despite being such a staunchly Catholic conservative country, the Filipinos are renowned for their hospitality, which they warmly extend to gay couples travelling in their country.
LGBTQ laws are slowly evolving in Asia
Whilst there are no countries anywhere in Asia that have legalised gay marriage yet, over the past decade there have been proactive steps taken to legalise same-sex civil unions. Israel was the first Asian country to do so and Thailand is in the process of passing this new law. Elsewhere, parts of Japan and Taiwan have started to allow same-sex unions to happen on a local level.
As a country’s government starts to accept and recognise same sex unions, it not only sends out a positive and encouraging signal to its LGBT community, but also a symbolic nod to gay tourism. Whilst it’s baby steps, it’s certainly a significant step in the right direction.
Supporting and inspiring our gay brothers and sisters
For us this is the most important reason why gay travellers should not boycott travelling to countries with anti-gay laws. Whilst it’s easy to argue that boycotting them is the answer, we strongly believe that we can have more of a positive impact on the local LGBTQ communities in these countries by going over and supporting them, rather than boycotting them altogether.
For example, the money you spend on gay friendly/gay owned businesses helps them flourish in a society where they are needed more than ever.
Actually going out there and supporting LGBTQ businesses and making friends and interacting with the local gay community is far more effective then boycotting their country altogether.