Pride Month 2024: How To Explore India Safely As An LGBTQ Traveller

For heterosexual men travelling around India might not be fraught with peril, but for women and individuals belonging to the LGBTQ community, travelling in India is not a piece of cake and caution should be exercised
Pride Month 2024: How To Explore India Safely As An LGBTQ Traveller
Research destinations and accommodations that are known for being welcomingShutterstock

Anybody who loves to travel has already done a solo gig or has that on their bucket list. While being a heterosexual man gives you relatively minor brushes with trouble when you are travelling in India, if you are a woman or an individual belonging to the LGBTQ community in India, travelling is not a piece of cake.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in India in September of 2018, but how safe is it really for people of the LGBTQ community to travel around the country?

"I think it is slightly easier for people to accept you if it's just your sexuality that is different from theirs. As long as they do not have to put in too much effort to accommodate you, it's easy," said Krey Kannojia, a digital content strategist and stand-up comic who identifies as non-binary. "When I was travelling around India as a bisexual woman, I hardly faced any issues, but now that I use a different set of pronouns and identify as non-binary, it is extremely dysphoric for me to travel alone and connect with people."

In tier-one cities, it is still easier to blend in, and most of the time, people don't ask too many questions if you don't stand out. The smaller towns and remote locales, however, are still conservative, and discretion should be exercised.

Here are some useful tips for the LGBTQ community for safely travelling around India.

Research LGBTQ+ Friendly Destinations: While attitudes vary across the country, big tier-one cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Goa are known for being more LGBTQ-friendly, with their small yet significant community organising different events across the cities. Research destinations and accommodations that are known for being welcoming.

Respect Local Laws and Customs: Familiarise yourself with local laws regarding LGBTQ rights and behaviour. Public displays of affection may still draw unwanted attention in certain areas, and that is regardless of your gender or sexual orientation. While attitudes are evolving, conservative norms still prevail in some places. It's best to avoid PDA until you absolutely know you're in a safe space.

Pride Month 2024: How To Explore India Safely As An LGBTQ Traveller
Mister and Art House is a boutique stay for gay men in DelhiMister and Art House

Choose LGBTQ-friendly Accommodations: Opt for hotels, guesthouses, or resorts that explicitly market themselves as LGBTQ-friendly. This can provide a safer and more inclusive environment where you can feel comfortable being yourself. Places like Mister and Art House in Delhi, a one-of-a-kind boutique hotel for gay men in India, offer acceptance and exceptional luxury. The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, with its chain of hotels across India, could be another great LGBTQ-friendly stay option.

Be Cautious With Dating Apps On the Go: In India, dating and hook-up apps are available, and like anywhere else, it's important to exercise discretion and caution when using them. For example, avoid meeting someone at a private residence. Instead, always arrange to meet in a public place while maintaining modesty. Inform your hotel front desk, tour operator, or guide that you're meeting a local, and share the public location and time of your meeting for added safety.

Stay Informed About Current Events: Stay updated on local news and events that may impact LGBTQ individuals. Awareness of social and political developments can help you make informed decisions about your travel itinerary.

Pride Month 2024: How To Explore India Safely As An LGBTQ Traveller
If you are travelling solo, it helps to know about safe places to visitShutterstock

Have Emergency Contacts Handy: Keep contact information for local LGBTQ-friendly organisations, embassies, and emergency services readily accessible in case you need assistance.

Take Help of LGBTQ+ Tour Operators in India: Pink Vibgyor, Indja Pink, and Pink Escpaes are some queer-friendly travel operators in India that can help you plan your trips with ease. You can check their website and zero in on a package, and they will take care of the rest.

Connect with Local LGBTQ Communities: Reach out to local LGBTQ organisations or communities for advice and insights. If you are travelling solo, it helps to know about safe places to visit, events to attend, and where to avoid. "I have started avoiding solo travelling altogether; the best thing is to go with a group," said Kannojia.

Use Gender-Neutral Language: When discussing your travel plans or interacting with locals, consider using gender-neutral language until you gauge the level of acceptance in the environment.

Trust Your Instincts: If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Your safety and well-being should always be the top priority.

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