At GVI, we’re committed to making our programs safe and welcoming for everyone. Our entire team – from our enrolment managers and support coordinators to our program managers – are trained to support LGBTQ+ participants and are here to chat about any of your concerns and answer your questions. Give us a call before your program so we can work together to create a safe and welcoming travel experience for you.
Please keep in mind the experience of LGBTQ+ travellers will vary depending on the local community, and is more nuanced than we can cover here. Please get in touch with our team who would be happy to give specific advice relevant to you and the program you would like to join.
The information below has been organised according to GVI’s hub locations and research stations and contains information on the inclusiveness of the country, accommodation options and useful links to websites where you can access additional information related to LGBTQ+ travel.
Please note that this information is updated periodically. For the most up-to-date information regarding the country’s current status, please refer to the external links provided under “Further resources”.
The information is relevant for our volunteering, internship, research fellowship and apprenticeship programs. If you are under 18 or part of a group please speak with our team for more specific info.
Is Costa Rica LGBTQ+ inclusive?
Costa Rica has made significant strides in advancing LGBTQ+ rights over the years and is considered a safe destination for travellers.
Although Costa Rica decriminalised same-sex relationships in the 1970s, there was true progress in 2016 with the protection of employment based on sexual orientation. Pivotal legislation in 2020 legalised same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.
As of 2022, Costa Rica has introduced comprehensive protection against hate crimes rooted in sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. There was also legalisation of civil partnerships for same-sex couples, supporting the nation’s commitment to inclusivity.
Costa Rica stands out in Central America for championing equal rights and combating discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly in areas like employment and identity documentation.
Costa Rica boasts a vibrant queer culture, especially in urban areas like San Jose. As you venture away from urban centres, LGBTQ+-friendly establishments might be less prevalent, often due to the lingering influence of Catholicism. Considering this aspect while planning leisure activities and weekend getaways is advisable.
Travellers in Costa Rica can express affection for their same-sex partners in public; however, it’s important to acknowledge that while acceptance is prevalent, differing views may persist among older generations, individuals with strong religious beliefs, or those in rural areas.
Our priority remains centred on fostering a warm and comfortable environment for every traveller. If you’re travelling solo to our Cartago community hub, we offer all-gender accommodations.
In contrast, at our Kekoldi research station, you’ll share with roommates, usually of the same gender (as specified by your passport information), although this can not be guaranteed.
If you prefer not to share a room with other travellers, please inform us during the early booking stage. While individual room options are not currently available at our Costa Rica hubs, we’d be happy to recommend other GVI locations that align with your preferences.
Is Fiji LGBTQ+ inclusive?
Fiji’s journey towards LGBTQ+ inclusivity reflects a commitment to progress, marked by legal and societal reforms.
In 1997 Fiji introduced constitutional protection based on sexual orientation. The decriminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts took place in 2005, marking a noteworthy leap forward. The landscape further evolved in 2007 with legal safeguards introduced for employment based on sexual orientation.
Progress continued with the extension of constitutional protection to encompass gender identity and expression in 2013, signifying Fiji’s dedication to recognising and honouring the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. While challenges persist, Fiji’s legal and social changes have fostered an environment that increasingly acknowledges the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ individuals. In the vibrant city of Suva, Fiji’s capital, a burgeoning queer scene caters to locals and visitors.
Although modest in size, the scene is growing steadily. It’s important to acknowledge that attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community may vary across the country, particularly in more rural areas.
Our foremost commitment is to create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for all travellers. In Fiji, our accommodations feature all-gender dormitories, ensuring an inclusive stay for LGBTQ+ travellers.
If you prefer not to share a room with other travellers, please inform us during the early booking stage. While individual room options are not currently available at our Fiji hub, we can suggest alternative GVI locations that align with your preferences.
Is Greece LGBTQ+ inclusive?
Greece has etched its reputation as a prominent LGBTQ+ destination with a rich legacy of embracing same-sex relationships, dating back to the era of the Greek poet Sappho.
Greece reflects its commitment to LGBTQ+ rights in progressive legal milestones. The decriminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts in 1951 marked a crucial turning point. Building on this foundation, in 2005 Greece expanded employment protection based on sexual orientation. The nation confronted hate crimes rooted in sexual orientation in 2008, followed in 2014 by criminalising the incitement of acts that may cause discrimination, hatred or violence based on “sexual orientation”.
In 2015, significant progress included implementing protections spanning goods, services, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. The momentum continued in 2016, as employment protection extended to encompass gender identity and sex characteristics, accompanied by the legalisation of civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The focus shifted in 2019 to address hate crimes targeting gender identity and sex characteristics and a stance against incitement to hatred.
Athens stands out for its vibrant queer scene, and beyond the mainland, Greek islands like Mykonos, Lesvos and Crete, have garnered recognition for their LGBTQ+ acceptance. While overall attitudes are welcoming , rural areas in Greece can lean towards more conservative socio-cultural views. While the queer scene is less prevalent on smaller islands like Kefalonia, LGBTQ+ individuals can travel in Greece easily and comfortably.
Our commitment revolves around crafting an inviting and accommodating experience for every traveller. While our accommodation options for Greece continue to evolve, we encourage you to connect with your enrolment manager during the early stages of the booking process for the most up-to-date information and available choices.
Is Madagascar LGBTQ+ inclusive?
Madagascar does not impose legal regulations on same-sex relationships. It’s worth noting that while homosexuality is legal in Madagascar, the age of consent is 21.
As you explore the country’s attractions, you should encounter no obstacles due to your sexual orientation. However, it is essential to exercise cultural sensitivity, as overt displays of affection, regardless of orientation, may be perceived as culturally inappropriate. Also be mindful that societal attitudes and acceptance can vary, particularly in rural regions.
Our primary objective is to provide all travellers with a welcoming and inclusive experience. If you embark on a solo journey, be assured that our Madagascar community hub offers all-gender accommodation.
Furthermore, we offer the option to pay for an individual room, catering to those who prefer solo accommodations. To explore the options that best suit your needs, feel free to chat to our team during the initial stages of the booking process.
Is Mexico LGBTQ+ inclusive?
Despite its long history, Mexico’s LGBTQ+ landscape is influenced by its conservative Catholic religious traditions. The nation has a historical context dating back to 1871 when Mexico decriminalised consensual same-sex sexual acts.
Since then, significant progress has been made, including protections for sexual orientation in goods, services, healthcare, education, employment, and housing introduced in 2003. However, in 2007, Mexico faced an alarming revelation, ranking as the second-highest globally in homophobic crimes, surpassed only by Brazil. There has been improvement in subsequent years, especially following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2009.
For centuries, within the indigenous Zapotec culture of Mexico, there has been a profound recognition of a unique gender identity often referred to as the “third gender”.’ Individuals identifying with this gender, known as “muxes”, reside in southern Oaxaca.. Muxes embrace a way of life that transcends traditional gender norms, blending both masculine and feminine attributes. Their courageous defiance of societal gender roles is not only accepted but celebrated.
Quintana Roo, the state where our research station is located, is very cosmopolitan, as it’s home to many of Mexico’s tourism hot spots. As a result, acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is widespread in this state.
Mexico had its first pride parade back in 1979, and in 2023 Puerto Morelos hosted its first pride parade. Local laws have wide protection for LGBTQ+ community members. That being said, outside of Quintana Roo, the situation varies from state to state. With greater acceptance in states and big cities (Mexico City, Jalisco, Monterrey etc.) and more of a challenge in smaller communities. However, it’s important to note that while acceptance is widespread, same-sex public displays of affection are rare and might elicit surprise, particularly among men and outside urban or resort settings.
Women in Mexico frequently hold hands, but further displays of affection could be considered socially inappropriate. Nonetheless, LBGTQ+ travellers are treated respectfully and should not encounter harassment, provided they are mindful and respectful of local customs.
Our primary focus is creating a welcoming and inclusive journey for every traveller. For solo travellers to our Mexico research station, all-gender accommodations are available.
The option to pay for an individual room is also offered, catering to those who prefer solo lodgings. We recommend reaching out to our team during the early stages of the booking process, and we will be happy to assist you with accommodation options.
Is Seychelles LGBTQ+ inclusive?
Seychelles presents an evolving attitude towards LGBTQ+ inclusion. Key developments include the introduction of employment protection based on sexual orientation in 2006 and the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts in 2016.
It’s important to note that local attitudes may vary, so exercising discretion regarding public displays of affection is advisable. Currently, same-sex marriage is not legally recognised. Despite this, Seychelles leans towards acceptance, even though reservedness in displays of affection –regardless of orientation – is encouraged.
Our primary focus is creating a warm and inclusive experience for all travellers. If you’re embarking on a solo adventure, our Cap Ternay research station offers all-gender accommodation.
While individual room options aren’t currently available at our Cap Ternay research station, when you speak to one of our enrolment managers early on in the booking process we can offer recommendations for alternative GVI locations that cater to your preferences.
Is South Africa LGBTQ+ inclusive?
South Africa is a global champion of LGBTQ+ rights, being the first country to incorporate a sexual orientation protection clause into its constitution and the fifth to legalise same-sex marriage.
The nation’s commitment to inclusivity is evident through a timeline of milestones. In 1994, South Africa laid the foundation with constitutional protection based on sexual orientation, followed by protection in employment in 1996. There was a pivotal moment in 1998 with the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts, accompanied by protection in healthcare.
The following years led to broader safeguards, including protection in housing in 1999 and in goods and services and education in 2000. By 2002, joint adoption for same-sex couples became legally recognised. In 2005, South Africa implemented protection based on sex characteristics.
The zenith was in 2006 with the legalisation of same-sex marriage and the prohibition of discrimination in all areas based on sexual orientation. While South Africa’s legal landscape reflects inclusivity, it’s important to recognise that societal attitudes and acceptance can differ, particularly in rural regions.
While overall attitudes are welcoming and warm, some rural areas still navigate evolving perspectives toward acceptance. Metropolitan areas like Cape Town and Johannesburg embody accepting cultural attitudes, whereas rural regions like Hoedspruit in Limpopo lean more towards conservative socio-cultural views.
Our priority is creating a welcoming and comfortable experience for all travellers. For solo adventurers, our Limpopo research station offers all-gender accommodation.
While individual room options aren’t currently available at our Limpopo hub, we’re happy to suggest alternative GVI locations that align with your preferences.
Is Spain LGBTQ+ inclusive?
Spain is a progressive nation committed to LGBTQ+ rights and equality. Public sentiment is mainly positive, with widespread support for LGBTQ+ rights among the Spanish population.
The legal framework reflects this ethos, as same-sex marriage and adoption are legally recognised. Laws safeguard individuals from sexual orientation and gender-based discrimination in employment and housing matters. It is worth noting, however, that non-binary gender recognition and comprehensive employment discrimination laws are areas where protections for transgender individuals are still evolving.
Spain warmly embraces LGBTQ+ travellers, particularly in major tourist hubs such as Tenerife. While rural areas and smaller towns may exhibit more conservative views, the likelihood of overt discrimination in Spain remains notably low.
Transgender individuals and those who identify beyond traditional gender norms find a welcoming atmosphere in Spain. High public support exists for individuals seeking to legally change their gender, although it’s important to acknowledge that some gender identity-based discrimination persists.
Our approach ensures comfortable accommodations for all travellers. We facilitate room sharing with same-gender roommates, based on the information in your passport. Please let us know if you don’t identify with the gender on your passport, so we can discuss rooming options.
Additionally, we offer mixed-gender dorm-style options to cater to diverse preferences. It’s worth mentioning that while this is usually how we set up accommodations, it could change depending on who’s in the program.
Please note that, at the moment, our Tenerife research station is unable to provide individual room options. However, we are more than willing to recommend alternative GVI locations that align with your requirements. Speak to your enrolment manager during the early stages of the booking process to explore options.
Is Thailand LGBTQ+ inclusive?
Thailand, a favoured Asian destination among LGBTQ+ travellers, has played a pioneering role in advancing LGBTQ+ rights. A significant milestone occurred in 1957 when Thailand decriminalised consensual same-sex sexual acts.
In 2004, the country instituted legal protection in employment based on sexual orientation, fostering workplace environments rooted in equality. Thailand’s commitment to inclusivity extended to addressing gender expression.
In 2015, legal protections were introduced across various sectors, encompassing goods and services, healthcare, education, employment, and housing. These safeguards were grounded in the principles of gender expression.
However, Thai society, like much of Asia, retains conservative elements. Public displays of affection remain uncommon for both heterosexual and same-sex couples. Although there has been social progress, many LGBTQ+ individuals continue to conceal their sexuality from their families. While same-sex marriages are no longer illegal, they are not yet legally recognised.
In Thai culture, “phet tee sam” is a recognised third gender, encompassing individuals who identify beyond traditional male or female categories. It offers flexibility based on personal preference, respecting diverse gender identities.
Thailand’s urban centres, including vibrant hubs like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, host a lively queer culture. However, LGBTQ+-friendly establishments become scarcer as you venture beyond these urban areas. This should be taken into consideration when planning your leisure time and weekend excursions.
For solo travellers in Chiang Mai, our accommodations consist of individual homestays within the local community. Each homestay typically provides a separate room or hut with a bathroom. The homestays, positioned throughout the village, are a brief walk from the GVI research station.
In Phang Nga, we tailor your accommodation to your preferences. We match you with roommates of the same gender (as indicated by your passport information) and can offer the option of mixed-gender dorm-style accommodation. Please let us know if you don’t identify with the gender on your passport so we can arrange the rooms accordingly.
It’s worth noting that while this is our usual accommodation set-up, it can vary due to the number of participants and the demographic of the group at any given time. Additionally, our Phang Nga hub offers the option to pay for an accommodation upgrade to an individual room. This private accommodation is located a 5-minute walk from the hub. Connect with our enrolment and support team early in the booking process to explore available accommodation options.