LGBTQ Student Page
In addition to the usual challenges students experience while studying abroad, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender nonconforming students may face some unique obstacles. In order to provide support and ensure that all students have a safe Study Abroad experience, this page contains resources and advice about issues that pertain to members of the LGBTQ community who wish to pursue an international education.
Where Homosexuality is Legal
Foreign same-sex marriages recognized1
No recognition of same-sex couples
Where Homosexuality is Illegal or Restricted
Laws restricting freedom of expression and association
Imprisonment (up to life sentence)
Imprisonment (up to death)
Rings indicate areas where local judges have granted marriage or imposed the death penalty in a jurisdiction where that is not otherwise the law and/or areas with a case-by-case application.
1Some jurisdictions in this category may currently have other types of partnerships.
2No arrests in the past three years or moratorium on law.
(from the Wikipedia Page on LGBT Rights)
Diversity information by country is available on the IES Abroad Diversity Resources page.
Students identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex or queer should be prepared to encounter new and different attitudes concerning sexual orientations and identities. The atmosphere surrounding LGBTQ rights and issues in each country or region is determined by numerous cultural, religious and political factors. The best way to avoid problems that cause discomfort or danger is to become familiar with the prevailing attitudes before departing for study abroad.
Travelling as a gay student may pose some problems. In order to make your journey as safe and enjoyable as possible, it is important to be cautious in some parts of the world. Such areas include Poland, Mauritius, the Middle East (excepting Turkey), Trinidad, Jamaica, Indonesia, Malaysia and Chechnya, as well as some African countries. These countries have anti-homosexuality laws which reflect cultural attitudes which may pose a threat to your safety while travelling through or visiting.
Transgender students travelling abroad will have to make special considerations concerning travel documents and airport security. Although it is unfortunate that you are singled out due to your identity, preparing with the TSA's guidelines in mind will help you to save time and avoid harassment.
Some Tips for Getting Through Security:
Update your passport and other forms of identification to reflect your expressed identity and current legal name if possible. All of your documents should match the name used to make the flight reservations in order to streamline the security process.
Refrain from wearing prosthetics or binding materials with metal components when possible in order to avoid extra searches.
Medication in your carry on, including syringes and injectable hormones, should be stored in a small bag or pouch along with your prescriptions. This pouch should be given to TSA agents for inspection during security check-in.
Become familiar with TSAs policies and considerations concerning Transgender travellers.
While you are abroad, it is likely that you will encounter a wide range of opinions and reactions, just like you would at home. There are resources available to help ease the transition into an unfamiliar place. This guideoffers tips and strategies for coming out to professors, and this Brown University booklet features students who have studied abroad and their experiences with diversity issues in various countries.
You can also visit the Department of State's LGBT Travel Information page, which addresses some common concerns about preparing to go abroad.
For more information you can visit these sites:
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- IES Abroad LGBTQ Support Page
- List of LGBTQ organizations around the world
- List of LGBT Rights by country or territory
- International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
- Council of Europe Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Unit
- LGBT Student Guide for Education Abroad- USF
- Suggestions for LGBTQ Students Going Abroad
- US Department of State, LGBTI Travel Information