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Keep up with the latest travel trends

Smart business decisions rely on good insights. Keep your finger on the pulse of ever-changing global travel demand trends with actionable data, updated daily. Check out some top insights for your country below, or use the filters to find the data most relevant to you.

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Country-specific travel demand

Use the tabs below to discover inbound and outbound demand trends for your selected origin and destination countries., trends in country demand, city and regional demand, growth of demand, sources of demand.

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Understand the relative popularity of cities in your selected destination country. For a broader view of popular destinations for travelers in your origin country, set your destination filter to ‘Worldwide’.

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Travel Risk Map: Country Overview

The updated map of International SOS, designed by medical and safety experts, shows the current risk ratings of all countries in an overview. 

International SOS just published the annual Travel Risk Map for the year 2023. Designed to help organisations and their mobile workers better understand the risk level of each country around the world. With the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the security conflict in Ukraine, the risk map provides invaluable information to enable organisations to recognise and understand the specific ways these risks may impact their employees. As global risks continue to evolve around the world, using data-driven tools like the Risk Map can help organisations maintain their Duty of Care responsibilities in these often-uncertain times. The map provides a layer illustrating mental health illness globally using external data from the  Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease . It shows the estimated percentage of a location’s population suffering from mental health disorders . This allows organisations, particularly large multinationals, to understand which locations may be particularly vulnerable to mental health issues. This data reveals the extent of the mental health epidemic that employees are facing and that employers must mitigate. Estimates are that around 14% (1-in-7) of people across the world are currently experiencing one or more mental or substance use disorders.

One of the notable improvements in medical risk is the Caribbean islands, largely due to the easing of COVID-related travel restrictions. The medical risk for Mali has increased to ‘Very High’ as the security environment is complex. This has led a challenging humanitarian situation and is resulting in the weakening of healthcare systems against increased demand. The Risk Map also provides a better understanding of the wider security situation in countries which mobile workers may be travelling through or working in. Which in turn, helps inform organisations to be able to create tailored solutions to mitigate the specific risks that their workforces may encounter. Security: Crisis in Ukraine Brings Variation to the European Security Situation The major security crisis from the past year has undoubtedly been the conflict in Ukraine. This has been reflected in the security focused map, as parts of Ukraine are now marked as having an ‘Extreme’ level of security risk.

Despite the wide-reaching impact of the Ukraine conflict and the rise in social unrest associated with cost-of-living increases, the underlying security risk environment across Europe has not changed. Outside of Ukraine the most notable risk rating increases have been in the Sahel where extreme security risk zones have expanded due to the rising risk of militancy – a trend also notable in Mozambique and other parts of Africa. Whilst in Colombia, a rise in criminality resulting in part from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in high-risk zones. Employees are more attuned to risks, and many are now more anxious about travel than pre-pandemic. Organisations must account for risk rating changes and trends in their planning. Managers should ensure employees have access to reliable information about the risks they may face, support with effective mitigation measures, and provide clear communication plans for employees before and during higher risk travel.

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COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

The Government of Canada’s official source of travel information and advice, the Travel Advice and Advisories help you to make informed decisions and travel safely while you are outside Canada. Check the page for your destination often, because safety and security conditions may change. See Travel Advice and Advisories – FAQ for more information.

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Take normal security precautions

Exercise a high degree of caution

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Travel advice is also provided by the governments of Australia , New Zealand , the United Kingdom and the United States .

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  take normal security precautions.

Take similar precautions to those you would take in Canada.

  Exercise a high degree of caution

There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

IMPORTANT: The two levels below are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are issued when the safety and security of Canadians travelling or living in the country or region may be at risk.

  Avoid non-essential travel

Your safety and security could be at risk. You should think about your need to travel to this country, territory or region based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with the region, and other factors. If you are already there, think about whether you really need to be there. If you do not need to be there, you should think about leaving.

  Avoid all travel

You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk. If you are already there, you should think about leaving if it is safe to do so.

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Travel Time Index

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The Travel Time Index is the ratio of the travel time during the peak period to the time required to make the same trip at free-flow speeds. A value of 1.3, for example, indicates a 20-minute free-flow trip requires 26 minutes during the peak period.

Methodology and data sources have been changed in 2019; these figures are not comparable to those in past editions of NTS. Population group is based on 2020 population.

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KEY: NA = not applicable; R = revised.

Very large urban areas – 3 million and over population.

Large urban areas – 1 million to less than 3 million population.

Medium urban areas – 500,000 to less than 1 million population.

Small urban areas – less than 500,000 population.

a Rank is based on the calculated percent change with the highest number corresponding to a rank of 1.

b   Averages weighted by Vehicle Miles Traveled.

Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 2021 Urban Mobility Report , (College Station, TX: 2021), available at http://mobility.tamu.edu as of Sept. 8, 2021.

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The world is constantly moving

This makes it all the more important to be able to rely on a dedicated expert assessment of the security situation worldwide. Our risk classification provides an important indication of this. Our security map, which we update periodically, represents a snapshot of our risk assessment.

The risk classification is made up of assessments of the following categories:

Entry and exit, transport (plane / air transport, long-distance public transport, local public transport, taxis, cars / rental cars, other means of transport), strike, infrastructure (money, telephone / mobile communications, internet, electricity), health (vaccinations, infection risks, hygiene, health care), natural hazards and the environment, security (crime, demonstrations/unrest, terrorism, armed conflict), economic security (corruption, industrial espionage) and special risks (cultural characteristics, LGBTQ, female travelers, criminal law characteristics and other risks).

A variety of factors therefore play a role in the classification of countries and regions. Countries and regions for which travelers should definitely inform themselves about country-specific risks before a trip are marked using the signal colors orange and red. In principle, however, relevant information is also stored in countries with lower risks for travelers.

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Very low risk (dark green)

The country/region can be travelled to without restrictions/constraints and travellers face very few special risks.

Violent crime against travellers/foreigners is rare and there are no particular risks from natural hazards or in terms of health. Security forces and rescue services are readily and reliably available. In the areas of transport and infrastructure, high standards are maintained. Terrorist organizations can operate in the country, but to a limited extent at most, thus the level of threat from terrorism is not covered in these countries/regions. Violent protests are relatively uncommon and/or very localized. Strikes in essential services (e.g. security/emergency services) very rarely occur, if at all. Severe weather can occur, though is rarely destructive on a significant scale.

Low risk (light green)

The country/region can be travelled to with only few restrictions/constraints and travellers face only a low level of risk . 

Risks potentially affecting travel and requiring special measures/precautions might arise in the areas of strike, health, natural hazards, crime and/or demonstrations. Attention should therefore be paid to those country-specific categories. Travel might, for example, be restricted due to tropical diseases, strikes, natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, tropical storms, seasonal weather phenomena), violent crime or an increase in protest activity. Travellers are advised to consult the country-database (providing situation reports & instructions) so as to inform themselves about possible risks at their travel destination.

Increased risk (yellow)

Travellers face increased risks but there is little need to take extra precautions when travelling to the country/region.

The security situation could be tense due to widespread violent crime and/or there could be significant health risks, natural hazards, or other special risks. Prolonged, violent protest is possible. Travellers should exercise increased vigilance and to consult the country-database (providing situation reports & instructions) prior to departure so as to inform themselves about destination-specific risks and advice .

High risk (orange)

Travellers face a high level of risk, and should expect restrictions in the country/region.

Special arrangements (e.g. tailored security plans) should therefore be made prior to departure. Travel to these areas is mostly advised against. The security situation in parts of the country is very tense due to armed conflicts, terrorist organizations, substantial violent crime, and/or frequent unrest. Affected areas may be difficult to access by travellers. Travellers are advised to exercise particular caution and to consult the country-database (providing situation reports & instructions) prior to departure in order to thoroughly inform themselves about destination-specific risks. Special security precautions are often necessary if travel to the country/region is intended.

Very high risk (red)

Travellers face a very high level of risk and should expect considerable restrictions when travelling the country/region.

Travel might even be entirely impossible. It is necessary to take extensive precautions (e.g. tailored security plan) and to complete a detailed travel itinerary prior to departure. Travel to these areas is fundamentally advised against. The security situation is likely extremely tense due to armed conflicts, terrorist organizations, extensive violent crime and/or unrest, and the government has little to no control over large parts of the country. Security forces and rescue services are rarely available, if at all. Affected areas may furthermore be difficult to access for travellers. Travellers are advised to not commence their travel without having thoroughly informed themselves about destination-specific risks via the country-database (providing situation reports & instructions), or without following those instructions and excersising an extreme level of care.

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Asher & Lyric Travel & Family Journalism

The 203 Worst (& Safest) Countries for LGBTQ+ Travel in 2023

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Instead of relying on hearsay and anecdotes from other travelers, we took a deep look at LGBTQ+ rights, country by country. After 400+ hours of research, we’ve reviewed all countries’ individual laws and gathered data from a variety of trusted international sources to create the definitive “LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index” that will help you find the safest (and least safe) countries for your next trip abroad.

Best & Worst Countries for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Our methodology

We ranked 203 countries with available data, and then carefully examined LGBTQ+ rights for each country. We created our LGBTQ+ travel safety index based on a total of ten ranking factors, each pertaining to the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ individuals. We worked with academic researcher, Eliot Assoudeh PhD. , to design the methodology and cross-reference all data. We utilized a mixed-methods research design to create the index.

Note on Russia/Ukraine: Russia and Ukraine were included in this study. However, keep in mind that (as in all instances of political unrest), the most marginalized people in society are often targets . Please note that the situation for LGBTQ+ people is constantly evolving in the region.

Positive factors

  • Legalized Same-Sex Marriage (0 to +50 Points) — Is same-sex marriage legal and equal under the law in this country? If marriage is not equal, are civil unions legal? If not, does the country legally recognize foreign LGBTQ+ marriages? We ranked the scores for this metric based on how many years same-sex marriage has been legal in this country with the highest possible score being 50 points. Civil unions and other types of partnerships received 25 points or less and were also ranked by the number of years they have been legal. Additionally, if a country only legally recognizes foreign LGBTQ+ marriages then they earned 10 points. Source: Recognition of same-sex relationships – Human Rights Watch , we also cross-referenced with Equaldex: Collaborative LGBTQ Knowledge Base
  • LGBTQ+ Worker Protections (0 to +50 Points) — For the people living in that country, are there legal protections against discrimination in the workplace? 50 points were awarded for both sexual orientation and gender protection; 25 points were awarded for sexual orientation protection only. Additionally, if a country only recognizes limited rights for LGBTQ+ worker protections, then they earned 10 points. Source: LGBTQ+ Worker Protections – ILGA
  • Legal Protections Against Anti-LGBTQ+ Discrimination (0 to +50 Points) — Are there either constitutional or broad legal protections of LGBTQ+ people in this country? Constitutional protections were awarded 50 points; broad protections were awarded 25 points. Additionally, if a country only recognizes limited protections against discrimination, then they earned 10 points. Source: Anti Discrimination Laws – ILGA
  • Criminalization of Hate-Based Violence (0 to +50 Points) — Is anti-LGBTQ+, hate-based, or homophobia-inspired violence considered a hate crime in this country? Is hate-based, anti-LGBTQ+ speech considered hate speech? The existence of hate crime penalties received 50 points; incitement-only punishments received 25 points. Additionally, if a country only has limited criminalization of hate-based violence, then they earned 10 points. Source: Criminalization of Hate-Based Violence – ILGA
  • Adoption Recognition (0 to +50 Points) — Is joint adoption and/or second-parent adoption legal in this country for same-sex parents? The recognition of both joint and second-parent adoption received 50 points, while only second-parent adoption recognition received 25 points. Source: Adoption Recognition – ILGA
  • Gallup World Poll (0 to +100 points) — In the Gallup poll, individuals were asked, “Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place to live for gay and lesbian people?” The percentages represented and used in our metrics include those who said “good place” for that country. We gave this factor a double weighting (maximum 100 points) because it gives a very clear pulse on the general attitude towards LGBTQ+ people by locals in each country. If, for example, a country answered 92% positively to the Gallup question, then they were awarded 92 points. We use the most recently available data available for that country. Source: Gallup World Poll
  • Transgender Legal Identity Laws (0 to +50 points) — The degree of legal recognition provided to transgender people varies widely throughout the world. We individually reviewed the laws for each country and asked the following questions. Does the country allow individuals to change their legal gender identity without requiring sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)? If so, these countries were awarded 50 points or less depending on the details of the law. Does the country require SRS for people to qualify for legal gender change? If so, these countries received 25 points or less depending on the details of the law. Does the country have no rights for or against people legally changing their gender? If so, these countries received 0 points. Source: We reviewed individual laws of each country and Transgender Rights – Wikipedia

Negative factors

  • Illegal LGBTQ+ Relationships and Acts (0 to -100 Points) — Can “sodomy,” “indecent acts,” or “buggery” result in punishments under the law such as physical violence, a fine, or prison time? Any possible death sentences or life-in-prison sentences under the law receive the maximum -100 point penalty. All other punishments were ranked by severity. We gave this factor a negative double weighting because the fact that homosexuality is illegal and can receive the death sentence means that the laws of these countries are extremely unfavorable for LGBTQ+ people. Source: Global Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws – Human Rights Watch
  • Propaganda/Morality Laws (0 to -50 Points) — Are there laws sanctioned by the state to prevent the dissemination or publication of information about queer culture? Are there laws affecting the creation of LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)? This metric was graded based on the severity of the punishments with -50 points being the worst score. Source: Global Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws – Human Rights Watch
  • Transgender Legal Identity Laws (0 to -50 points) — We individually reviewed the laws for each country and asked the following question. Does the country make it illegal for people to change their gender? If so, these countries were given up to negative fifty points depending on the severity of punishment. For example, in Oman, simply imitating the opposite sex gets up to 1 year in prison and this country received the full -50 points. Source: Global Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws – Human Rights Watch
  • Transgender murder rates (0 to -100 points) — Countries were awarded zero points if they did not have any recorded transgender murders, but were deducted up to 100 points if transgender murders were reported through the Transgender Murder Monitoring website. Rates are per million citizens and occurred between 2008 and September 2022. Source: Transgender Murder Monitoring – TvT

To measure LGBTQ+ safety abroad, one cannot look only at data on whether or not same-sex marriage is legal and if anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination laws are in place. It also depends on the general attitude of the culture, minutiae of the legal system, and oppression of LGBTQ+ rights. These issues can affect everything, from your ability to show public displays of affection to being able to share a hotel room bed to the capacity at which you can use dating apps without being caught by the local police. A few items on our list, such as adoption recognition and worker protections, may not affect LGBTQ+ travelers directly, but these factors are a good indication of overall attitudes within the culture.

Study Limitations: Due to budget constraints, the methodology used in our index does not sample the actual experiences of LGBTQ tourists who have visited each country. One way we attempted to overcome this weakness was by utilizing the Gallup World Poll as well as looking at each country’s laws and any progress the country’s had in comparison with our previous years’ studies.

What’s changed for LGBTQ+ individuals over the past year?

LGBTQ+ protesters at an event

Some of the positive highlights include:

  • Cuba legalized same-sex marriage in September 2022.
  • While gay marriage is still banned, Japan is making progress toward the acceptance of same-sex marriage, and gay couples can now register a domestic partnership as of November 2022. 
  • Switzerland legalized same-sex marriage on July 1, 2022.
  • Singapore, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis decriminalized homosexuality in 2022.
  • As of January 31, 2023, same-sex marriage and adoption are fully legal in Slovenia.
  • Croatia passed laws expanding the rights of same-sex couples to joint adoption in August 2022.
  • In December 2022, the U.S. Virgin Islands increased its discrimination protections for people based on their sexual identity and gender expression.
  • New Zealand plans to implement gender self-identification on June 15, 2023. 

Unfortunately, not all news was good for LGBTQ+ rights in the past year. Russia passed stricter laws that prohibit LGBTQ+ “ propaganda .” In 2022, Indonesia banned sexual activity outside of marriage to come into effect in three years, but this will target LGBTQ+ people who are not permitted to marry in the country. According to the ACLU , the 2023 legislative session has already seen over 120 bills aimed at restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the United States.

Where are same-sex relationships illegal?

LGBTQ+ couple in a tropical location

Unfortunately, some countries where it’s illegal to be gay or trans also happen to be popular vacation spots. For instance, it’s illegal to be gay in Jamaica; the “buggery law,” which is leftover from the colonial era, allows for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, including hard labor. Jamaica was called “ the most homophobic place on Earth ” by Time magazine in 2006. That label has clung to Jamaica ever since, and with good reason. In a 2013 survey of 71 LGBTQ+ people conducted by Human Rights Watch, more than half said they had been victims of homophobic violence. Non-violent discrimination is even more pervasive, with bullying and exclusion faced in education, healthcare, and within local communities. Although there is some light at the end of the tunnel for Jamaica since there are signs that it’s moving toward reform.

Those looking for trans- and gay-travel-safe countries should reconsider popular vacation destinations like Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Myanmar, and Egypt as well as some of the more popular beaches in the Caribbean, like Saint Lucia and Barbados.

Please note: All countries marked with an asterisk* in the below list were former British colonies and their anti-LGBTQ+ laws mostly came into effect under British rule.

(CLICK the country names for more details on their anti-LGBTQ+ laws) Jamaica* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -132

Section 76. Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with’ mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding ten years.

LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -75

Sections 132, 133.

  • GROSS INDECENCY

(1) A person who commits an act of gross indecency with another person commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for 10 years or on summary

conviction to 5 years.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an act of gross indecency committed in private between an adult male person and an adult female person, both of whom consent.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)

(a) an act shall be deemed not to have been committed in private if it is committed in a public place; and

(b) a person shall be deemed not to consent to the commission of such an act if

(i) the consent is extorted by force, threats or fear of bodily harm or is obtained by false and fraudulent representations as to the nature of the act;

(ii) the consent is induced by the application or administration of any drug, matter or thing with intent to intoxicate or stupefy the person; or

(iii) that person is, and the other party to the act knows or has good reason to believe that the person is suffering from a mental disorder.

(4) In this section “gross indecency” is an act other than sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural) by a person involving the use of the genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.

Laws of Saint Lucia Criminal Code Cap.3.01 95 Revision Date: 31 Dec. 2005

(1) A person who commits buggery commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment

(a) life, if committed with force and without the consent of the other person;

(b) ten years, in any other case.

(2) Any person who attempts to commit buggery, or commits an assault with intent to commit buggery, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

(3) In this section “buggery” means sexual intercourse per anus by a male person with another male person.

Source: Criminal Code, No. 9 of 2004, sections 132, 133.

Article 16. Buggery “(1) A person who commits buggery is guilty of an ofence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for— (a) twenty-fve years, if committed by an adult on a minor; (b) ten years, if committed by an adult on another adult; or (c) fve years, if committed by a minor; and, if the Court thinks it ft, the Court may order that the convicted person be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. (2) Any person who attempts to commit the ofence of buggery, or is guilty of an assault with the intent to commit the same is guilty of an ofence and liable to imprisonment for four years and, if the Court thinks it ft, the Court may order that the convicted person be admitted to the psychiatric hospital for treatment. (3) In this section “buggery” means sexual intercourse per anum by a male person with a male person or by a male person with a female person.

Source: Sexual Offences Act 1998, article 16. Grenada* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: 33

Article 431. If any two persons are guilty of unnatural connexion, or if any person is guilty of unnatural connexion with any animal, every such person shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.

Source: Criminal Code of 1987, article 431. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -70

Sections 146, 148.

148. Any person, who in public or private, commits an act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex to commit an act of gross indecency with him or her, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for five years.

146. Any person who commits buggery with any other person; commits buggery with an animal; or permits any person to commit buggery with him or her; is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for ten years.

(Click the country names for more details on their anti-LGBTQ+ laws)

Sections 214, 215, 217. 214. Any person who- (1) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (2) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (3) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature; is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.

215. Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences defined in the last preceding section is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for seven years. The offender cannot be arrested without warrant.

217. Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years. The offender cannot be arrested without warrant.

Source: Criminal Code Act (Chapter 77), 1990, sections 214, 215, 217; Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013. Malawi* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -163

Sections 153, 137A. 153. Unnatural offences Any person who— (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be liable to imprisonment for fourteen years, with or without corporal punishment.

Source: Penal Code of 1930 (amended 2010), sections 153, 137A. Oman LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -145

Articles 33, 233, 266(d).

266. The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period not less than one month, and not more than one year, and a fine of not less than (100) one hundred Omani riyals, and not more than (300) three hundred Omani riyals, or one of these two penalties for each mention: D – appeared publicly in the appearance of women in his clothing or body.

Source: Omani Penal Code No. 7/1974, articles 33, 223 and Oman Penal Code, Article 266(d) Zambia* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -104

Sections 155, 156. 155. Any person who- (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature; commits a felony and liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years and may be liable to imprisonment for life: Provided that where a person- (i) has carnal knowledge of a child against the order of nature; (ii) causes a child to have carnal knowledge of an animal; or (iii) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of a male or female child against the order of nature; that person commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for not less than twenty-five years and may be liable to imprisonment for life. (As amended by No. 26 of 1933 and repealed and replaced by Act No. 15 of 2005) Unnatural offences

156. Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in section one hundred and fifty-five commits a felony and is liable, upon conviction of not less than seven years but not exceeding fourteen years. (As amended by No. 26 of 1933 and repealed and replaced by Act No. 15 of 2005)

Source: Penal Code Act (as amended by Act No. 15 of 2005), sections 155, 156. Tanzania* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -120

Sections 138(a), 154. 138 A. Acts of gross indecency between persons and person who, in public or private commits, or is a party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any person of, any act of gross indecency with another person, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than one year and not exceeding five years or to a fine not less than one hundred thousand and not exceeding three hundred thousand shillings; save that where the offence is committed by a person of eighteen years of age or more in respect of any person under eighteen years of age, a pupil of primary school or a student of secondary school the offender shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than ten years, with corporal punishment, and shall also be ordered to pay compensation of an amount determined by the court to the person in respect of whom the offence was committed for any injuries caused to that person.”

154. Unnatural of offences (1)Any person who- (a)has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (b)has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c)permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature.commits an offence, and is liable to imprisonment for life and in any case to imprisonment for a term of not less than thirty years. (2)where the offence under subsection (1) of this section is committed to a child under the age of ten years the offender shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.”

Source: Penal Code of 1945 (as amended by the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, 1998), section 138(a), 154. Sudan* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -109

In July 2020, Sudan’s Sovereign Council amended the penal code, removing some crimes from the books and reducing sentences for others, including sodomy. Previously, the death penalty was punishment for individuals accused by committing “homosexual sex” defined by the act of penetration, for the third time. For people found guilty of this offense for the first time, sentences were lashing 100 times or prison up to 5 years. For the second time, the sentence was both punishments combined. Learn more here . Uganda* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -92

Sections 145, 148. 145. Unnatural offences. Any person who— (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.

148. Indecent practices. Any person who, whether in public or in private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person or procures another person to commit any act of gross indecency with him or her or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any person with himself or herself or with another person, whether in public or in private, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

Source: Penal Code Act of 1950 (Chapter 120), (as amended), section 145, 148. Egypt* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -96

Article 9(c), Article 1. Article 9: Punishment by imprisonment for a period not less than three months and not exceeding three years and a fine not less than 25 LE and not exceeding 300 LE in the Egyptian administration and not less than 250 Lira and not exceeding 3000 Lira in the Syrian administration or one of these two punishments applies in the following cases: (c) Whoever habitually engages in debauchery or prostitution.

Upon the apprehension of a person in the last category, it is permitted to send him for a medical examination. If it is discovered that he is carrying an infectious venereal disease, it is permitted to detain him in a therapeutic institute until his cure is completed.

It is permitted to determine that the convicted person be placed, upon completion of his sentence, in a special reformatory until the administrative agency orders his release. This judgment is obligatory in cases of recidivism, and the period spent in the reformatory is not allowed to be more than three years. …

Article 1: (a) Whoever incites a person, be they male or female, to engage in debauchery or in prostitution, or assists in this or facilitates it, and similarly whoever employs a person or tempts him or induces him with the intention of engaging in debauchery or prostitution, is to be sentenced to imprisonment for a period not less than one year and not more than three years and a fine between 100 and 300 LE in the Egyptian administration and between 1000 and 3000 Lira in the Syrian administration.

(b) If the person upon whom the crime is perpetrated has not reached the age of twenty-one years, the punishment is imprisonment for a period not less than one year and not more than five years and a fine between 100 and 500 LE in the Egyptian administration and between 1000 and 5000 Lira in the Syrian administration.

Source: Law 10/1961 on the Combating of Prostitution, article 9(c), article 1. Algeria LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -75

Art. 338. – All guilty of an act of homosexuality is punished with imprisonment of two (2) months to two (2) years and a fine of five hundred (500) to two thousand (2,000) DA .

If a sponsor is a minor of eighteen years, the penalty in respect of the major can be elevated up to three (3) years’ imprisonment and ten thousand (10,000) DA fine.

Source: 1966 Penal Code, article 338. Morocco LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -89

Article 489. Is punished by imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine of 200 to 1,000 dirhams, unless the fact constitutes a more serious offense, whoever commits an immodest or unnatural act with an individual of his sex.

(This has been Google translated from French).

Source: Penal Code of 1962, article 489. Tunisia LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -91

Article 230. Sodomy, if it does not enter any of the cases provided for in the preceding articles, is punishable by imprisonment for three years.

Source: Penal Code of 1913 (as modified), article 230. Ethiopia LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -93

Articles 629, 630.

Article 629.- Homosexual and other Indecent Acts. Whoever performs with another person of the same sex a homosexual act, or any other indecent act, is punishable with simple imprisonment.

Article 630.- General Aggravation to the Crime. (1) The punishment shall be simple imprisonment for not less than one year, or, in grave cases, rigorous imprisonment not exceeding ten years, where the criminal: a) takes unfair advantage of the material or mental distress of another or of the authority he exercises over another by virtue of his position, office or capacity as guardian, tutor, protector, teacher, master or employer, or by virtue of any other like relationship, to cause such other person to perform or to submit to such an act; or b) makes a profession of such activities within the meaning of the law (Art. 92). (2) The punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment from three years to fifteen years, where: a) the criminal uses violence, intimidation or coercion, trickery or fraud, or takes unfair advantage of the victim’s inability to offer resistance or to defend himself or of his feeble-mindedness or unconsciousness; or b) the criminal subjects his victim to acts of cruelty or sadism, or transmits to him a venereal disease with which he knows himself to be infected; or c) the victim is driven to suicide by distress, shame or despair.

Source: Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Proclamation No. 414/2004, articles 629 and 630. Kenya* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -87

Sections 162, 165.

162. Unnatural offences Any person who— (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years: Provided that, in the case of an offence under paragraph (a), the offender shall be liable to imprisonment for twenty-one years if— (i) the offence was committed without the consent of the person who was carnally known; or (ii) the offence was committed with that person’s consent but the consent was obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of some kind, or by fear of bodily harm, or by means of false representations as to the nature of the act. [Act No. 42 of 1951, s. 6, Act No. 5 of 2003, s. 30.]

165. Indecent practices between males Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years.

Source: Penal Code of Kenya, Revised Edition 2012 [2010], section 162, 165. Senegal LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -67

Article 319 (para. 3). Any indecent assault or attempted without violence on the person of a child of one or the other sex under the age of thirteen, shall be punished by imprisonment for two to five years. Will be punished the maximum penalty, the indecent assault committed everywhere ascendant or any person having authority over the minor victim, even over the age of thirteen.(Law No. 66-16 of February 1, 1966)

Notwithstanding the heavier penalties provided for by the previous paragraphs or Articles 320 and 321 of this Code shall be punished by imprisonment for one to five years and a fine of 100,000 to 1,500,000 francs, anyone who commits an indecent act or act against nature with an individual of his sex. If the act was committed with a minor of 21 years, the maximum penalty will always be.

Source: Penal Code of 1965, article 319 (para. 3). Cameroon* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -54

Article 347 bis. – Homosexuality. Is punished with imprisonment of six months to five years and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 francs anyone who has sex with someone of their sex. (This has been Google translated from French).

Source: Cameroon Penal Code of 1967, article 347 bis. Zimbabwe* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -52

Section 73. (1) Any male person who, with the consent of another male person, knowingly performs with that other person anal sexual intercourse, or any act involving physical contact other than anal sexual intercourse that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act, shall be guilty of sodomy and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both. (2) Subject to subsection (3), both parties to the performance of an act referred to in subsection (1) may be charged with and convicted of sodomy. (3) For the avoidance of doubt it is declared that the competent charge against a male person who performs anal sexual intercourse with or commits an indecent act upon a young male person— (a) who is below the age of twelve years, shall be aggravated indecent assault or indecent assault, as the case may be; or (b) who is of or above the age of twelve years but below the age of sixteen years and without the consent of such young male person, shall be aggravated indecent assault or indecent assault, as the case may be; or (c) who is of or above the age of twelve years but below the age of sixteen years and with the consent of such young male person, shall be performing an indecent act with a young person.

Source: Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, (Effective 2006), section 73. Ghana* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -49

Section 104. Unnatural Carnal Knowledge. (1) Whoever has unnatural carnal knowledge— (a) of any person of the age of sixteen years or over without his consent shall be guilty of a first degree felony and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than twenty-five years; or (b) of any person of sixteen years or over with his consent is guilty of a misdemeanour; or (c) of any animal is guilty of a misdemeanour. (2) Unnatural carnal knowledge is sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal.

Source: Criminal Code 1960 (amended 2003), section 104. Eswatini* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -46

Common Law Offense

Same-sex relations are outlawed in Eswatini. Sodomy is criminalized though the sentence is not specified and is regarded as a common law offense.

Source: Common law offense. Togo LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -45

Article 88. Will be punished by imprisonment of one to three years and a fine of 100,000 to 500,000 francs anyone who has committed a shameless act or against nature with an individual of his sex. (This has been Google translated from French).

Source: Penal Code of 13 August 1980 (amended 2000), article 88. Namibia LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: 48

Common Law Offense. Sodomy and “unnatural sexual offences between men,” are illegal in Namibia, though the sentence is not specified and is considered to be a common law offense.

Source: Common Law Offense. Mauritius* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: 15

Section 250. Sodomy and Bestiality (1) Any person who is guilty of the crime of sodomy or bestiality shall be liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding 5 years.

(2) (a) Notwithstanding sections 151 and 152 of the Criminal Procedure Act, where it is averred that the sodomy is committed on a minor or a physically or mentally handicapped person, the person charged shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than 2 years.

(b) Part X of the Criminal Procedure Act and the Probation of Offenders Act shall not apply to a person liable to be sentenced under paragraph (a).

Source: Mauritius Criminal Code of 1838, section 250. Burundi LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -45

Subsection 3: Homosexuality

Article 567: Whoever makes sex with the same sex is punished with imprisonment of three months to two years and a fine of fifty thousand to hundred thousand francs or one of these penalties.

Source: Law No. 1/05 of April 22, 2009, on the Revision of the Criminal Code, article 567. Comoros LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -56

Article 318: Any indecent assault consummated or attempted on the person of a child of one or the other sex under the age of fifteen will be punished by imprisonment for two to five years. Will be punished with the maximum of the sentence, the indecent assault committed by any ascendant or any person having authority over the minor victim over the age of fifteen. Without prejudice to the more serious penalties provided for in the preceding paragraphs or Articles 320 and 321 of this Code shall be punishable by imprisonment for one to five years and fine of 50,000 to 1,000,000 francs, anyone who has committed a shameless act or against nature with an individual of his sex. If the act was committed with a minor, the maximum of penalty will always be pronounced. (This has been Google translated from French).

Source: Penal Code of the Federal Islamic Republic of Comoros, 1995, article 318. Chad LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -58

Article 354: Is punished by imprisonment from three months to two years and a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 FCFA, whoever has sex with the people of his sex. (This has been Google translated from French).

Source: Chad Penal Code 2017 Eritrea LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -75

Articles 310, 311. Art. 310. – Homosexual Conduct. (1) A person who performs with a person of the same sex an act corresponding to the sexual act, or any other indecent sexual act, is guilty of homosexual conduct, a Class 7 serious offence, punishable with a definite term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years and not more than 7 years.

Art. 311. – Consent to Sexual Conduct. (3) Consent is no defense to an offence under Article 309 (Incest) or Article 310 (Homosexual Conduct).

Source: Penal Code of 2015, article 310, 311. Gambia* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -139

A “person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature … or permits any person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature” commits a felony known as an unnatural offense and, on conviction, is punishable by a 14-year prison term. (Criminal Code of 1934, § 144, 3 LAWS OF GAMBIA, Cap. 8:01 (rev. ed. 2009).) Acts that constitute “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” include:

(a) carnal knowledge of the person through the anus or the mouth of the person; (b) inserting any object or thing into the vulva or anus of the person for the purpose of simulating sex; and (c) committing any other homosexual act with the person. (Id. § 144.)

Attempt to commit an unnatural offense, which is also a felony, is subject to a seven-year prison term. (Id. § 145.).

The legislation introduces a new offense involving homosexuality known as “aggravated homosexuality,” which is punishable on conviction by life in prison. (Id.) A person commits this offense if he or she engages in a homosexual act and the:

(a) person against whom the offence is committed is below the age of eighteen; (b) offender is a person living with HIV Aids; (c) offender is a parent or guardian of the person against whom the offence is committed; (d) offender is a person in authority over the person against whom the offence is committed; (e) victim of the offence is a person with disability; (f) offender is a serial offender; or (g) offender applies, administers or causes to be administered by any man or woman, any drug, matter or substance with intent to stupefy or overpower him or her, so as to enable any person to have un-lawful carnal connection with any person of the same sex. (Criminal Code (Amendment) Act No. 11 of 2014, § 4, SUPPLEMENT C TO THE GAMBIA GAZETTE No. 15 (Oct. 16, 2014), HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH.)

Source: Gambia Criminal Code (Act No. 25 of 1933), amended 1965; Gambia Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, 2005; Gambia Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, 2014. Guinea LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -80

Article 274: Any shameless or unnatural act committed with an individual of his sex or with an animal is punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years and a fine of 500,000 to 1,000,000 Guinean francs or one of these only two sentences. When the act was committed with a minor under 18, the maximum penalty is always pronounced. When this act has been consummated or attempted with violence, the culprit is sentenced to 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment. (This has been Google translated from French).

Source: Penal Code of the Republic of Guinea, 2016, article 274. Kuwait* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -180

Article 193 and Article 198.

Article 193 If another man becomes a man who has reached the age of twenty-one and that is with his consent, both of them shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years.

Article 198 Any person who brings a signal or acts of indecent assault in a public place or who is seen or heard by anyone in a public place or resembles the opposite sex in any way shall be punished. Imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding one thousand dinars or one of these two penalties.

(This has been Google translated from Arabic).

Source: Kuwait Penal Code (1960), Law No. 16, article 193. And Kuwait Penal Code, No. 16 of 1960, art. 198. Liberia LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -40

Article 14.74 – Voluntary Sodomy. A person who engages in deviate sexual intercourse under circumstance not stated in Section 14.72 or 14.73 has committed a first degree misdemeanor.

Source: Penal Law – Title 26 – Liberian Code of Laws Revised, 1978, article 14.74. Libya* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -150

Articles 407-408.

Article 407 (4) Whoever has intercourse with a person with his consent will be punished with his partner by imprisonment of not more than five years.

Article 408 (4) Whoever commits an indecent act with a person with his consent will be punished with his partner with imprisonment. (ibid., 38)

Source: Libyan Penal Code of 1953, as amended by Law No. 70 (1973), articles 407-408. Mauritania LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -96

Articles 306, 308.

ART. 308. Every major Muslim who commits an immodest act or an unnatural act with an individual of his sex shall be punished with death by public stoning. In the case of two women, they will be punished by the penalty provided for in Article 306 (1).

ART. 306. – Anyone who commits public outrage against Islamic modesty and morals or who has violated sacred places or helped to violate them, if this action is not included in crimes carrying Ghissass or Diya, shall be punishable by a correctional sentence of three months to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 to 60,000 UM. Every Muslim guilty of the crime of apostasy, either by word or by action in an apparent or obvious manner, will be invited to repent within three days. If he does not repent within this time, he is condemned to death as an apostat, and his property will be confiscated for the benefit of the Treasury. If he repents before the execution of this sentence, the public prosecutor will seize the Supreme Court, for the purpose of his rehabilitation in all his rights, without prejudice to a correctional penalty envisaged with the 1st paragraph of this article. Anyone guilty of the crime of apostasy (Zendagha) will, unless he repents beforehand, be punished with the death penalty. Will be punished with imprisonment from one month to two years, anyone who will be guilty of the crime of indecent assault. Any major Muslim who refuses to pray while recognizing the obligation of the prayer will be asked to fulfill it until the time limit for the completion of the obligatory prayer concerned. If he persists in his refusal until the end of this period, he will be punished with the death penalty. If he does not recognize the obligation of prayer, he will be punished with the penalty for apostasy and his property confiscated for the benefit of the Treasury. He will not benefit from the service consecrated by the Muslim rite.

Source: Penal Code of 1983, articles 306, 308. Sierra Leone* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -63

Section 61. Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable Crime of Sodomy and Buggery, committed either with Mankind or with any Animal, shall Bestiality. be liable, at the Discretion of the Court, to be kept in Penal Servitude for Life or for any Term not less than Ten Years.

Source: Offences against the Person Act 1861, section 61. Somalia* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -150

Articles 409, 410.

Art. 409. (Homosexuality). – Whoever has carnal intercourse with a person of the same sex shall be punished, where the act does not constitute a more serious crime, with imprisonment [96. P.C.] from three months to three years. Where the act committed is an act of lust different from carnal intercourse, the punishment imposed shall be reduced by one third [119 P.C.].

Art. 410. (Security Measures). – A security measure [161 s. P.C.] may be added to a sentence for the crimes referred to in articles 407, 408, and 409.

Source: Penal Code, Legislative Decree No. 5/1962, articles 409, 410. South Sudan* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -126

Section 248, Section 379.

248. Unnatural Offences. (1) Whoever, has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person and whoever allows any person to have such intercourse with him or her commits an offence, and upon conviction, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and may also be liable to a fine. (2) If the intercourse referred to in subsection (1), above, is committed without consent, the offender shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years and may also be liable to a fine; provided that, a consent given by a person below the age of eighteen years to such intercourse shall not be deemed to be a consent within the meaning of this section. Explanation— Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

379. Vagabond. (1) The term “vagabond” means— (a) any person who after being convicted as an idle person, commits any of the offences which would render him or her liable to be convicted as such again; (b) any person who is found to be in possession of breaking implements with the intent to commit house trespass; 187 Act 9 Penal Code Act 2008 (c) any suspected person or reputed thief who by night frequents or loiters about any shop, warehouse, dwelling house, dock or wharf with the intent to commit any offence under Chapter XXI of this Act; (d) any person who knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of a prostitute or in any public place solicits or importunes for immoral purposes; and (e) any male person who dresses or is attired in the fashion of a woman in a public place. (2) Whoever is convicted as a vagabond shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or with a fine or with both.

Middle East

LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -143

There is no codified penal Law in Saudi Arabia. Sentences are derived from interpretations of Sharia law.

Source: There is no codified penal Law in Saudi Arabia. Sentences are derived from interpretations of Sharia law. Qatar* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -137

Articles 296, 298.

Article (296) One is convicted to no less than a year and no more than three years in prison in case of: 1- Leading a female to commit adultery. 2- Instigating, inducing, seducing a female anyhow to commit adultery or frequenting a brothel in order to commit debauchery whether inside or outside the country. 3- Leading, instigating or seducing a male anyhow for sodomy or dissipation. 4- Inducing or seducing a male or a female anyhow to commit illegal or immoral actions. 5- Bringing, exposing or accepting a male or a female in the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Article (298) Anyone who takes adultery or sodomy as a profession or a living is convicted to no more than ten years in prison. The same penalty is imposed on anyone who exploits a person’s debauchery and dissipation.

Source: Penal Code, Law No. (II) of 2004, articles 296, 298. Sharia law also applies to Muslims. United Arab Emirates (UAE)* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -134

Article 359. Any person who denies the dress of a woman and enters a special place for women shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dirhams or by one of these penalties. It is forbidden for non-women to enter at that time.

Source: Federal Law No. 7 of 2016, art. 359. Yemen* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -128

Articles 264, 268.

Article (264): Homosexuality is the contact of one man to another through his posterior; both sodomites whether males or females are punished with whipping of one hundred strokes if not married. It is admissible to reprimand it by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year punishment by stoning to death if married.

Article (268): Lesbianism is intercourse between one female and another. Anyone engaged in this act with another shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years. If the act happens under coercion imprisonment may be expanded to seven years.

Source: Penal Code 1994, articles 264, 268. Iran LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -104

Articles 233-41.

Article 233- Livat is defined as penetration of a man’s sex organ (penis), up to the point of circumcision, into another male person’s anus.

Article 234- The hadd punishment for livat shall be the death penalty for the insertive/active party if he has committed livat by using force, coercion, or in cases where he meets the conditions for ihsan; otherwise, he shall be sentenced to one hundred lashes. The hadd punishment for the receptive/passive party, in any case (whether or not he meets the conditions for ihsan) shall be the death penalty.

Note 1- If the insertive/active party is a non-Muslim and the receptive/passive party is a Muslim, the hadd punishment for the insertive/active party shall be the death penalty.

Note 2- Ihsan is defined as a status that a man is married to a permanent and pubescent wife and whilst he has been sane and pubescent has had a vaginal intercourse with the same wife while she was pubescent, and he can have an intercourse with her in the same way [vaginal] whenever he so wishes.

Article 235- Tafkhiz is defined as putting a man’s sex organ (penis) between the thighs or buttocks of another male person.

Note- A penetration [of a penis into another male person’s anus] that does not reach the point of circumcision shall be regarded as tafkhiz.

Article 236- In the case of tafkhiz, the hadd punishment for the active and passive party shall be one hundred lashes and it shall make no difference whether or not the offender meets the conditions of ihsan [mentioned in note 2 of article 234], or whether or not [the offender] has resorted to coercion.

Note- If the active party is a non-Muslim and the passive party is a Muslim, the hadd punishment for the active party shall be the death penalty.

Article 237- Homosexual acts of a male person in cases other than livat and tafkhiz, such as kissing or touching as a result of lust, shall be punishable by thirty-one to seventy-four lashes of ta’zir punishment of the sixth grade.

Note 1- This article shall be equally applicable in the case of a female person.

Note 2- This article shall not be applicable in the cases punishable by a hadd punishment under Shari’a rules.

Article 238- Musaheqeh is defined as where a female person puts her sex organ on the sex organ of another person of the same sex.

Article 239- The hadd punishment for musaheqeh shall be one hundred lashes.

Article 240- Regarding the hadd punishment for musaheqeh, there is no difference between the active or passive parties or between Muslims and non-Muslims, or between a person that meets the conditions for ihsan and a person who does not, and also whether or not [the offender] has resorted to coercion.

Article 241- In the cases of indecent offenses, in the absence of admissible legal evidence and with denial of the accused, any type of investigation and interrogation in order to discover hidden affairs and things concealed from the public eye shall be prohibited. In cases with the possibility of commission of an offense with force, coercion, assault, abduction, or deception, or cases which are considered as commission [of an offense] with resorting to force, this rule shall not be applicable.

Source: Islamic Penal Code of Iran, 2013, articles 233-41. Pakistan* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -89

Section 377 Unnatural offences: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years nor more than ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

Source: Pakistan Penal Code (XLV of 1860), section 377 Lebanon LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -70

Article 534.

Penal Code 1943, Article 534 Sexual Intercourse Against Nature Article 534 prohibits “sexual intercourse against nature” with a penalty of up to one year imprisonment. This provision has been applied to intercourse between men and between women.

Penal Code 1943, Article 521 Disguising as a Woman Article 521 criminalises gender expression by making it an offence for a man to “disguise himself as a woman”. The penalty for this offence is up to six years imprisonment.

Source: Criminal Code of 1943, article 534. Uzbekistan LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -70

Article 120 Besoqolbozlik* (Homosexual Intercourse): Besoqolbozlik, that is, voluntary sexual intercourse of two male individuals – shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years.

The following country does not have sufficient data on the LGBTQ+ community, so it has not been included in our LGBTQ+ Danger Index graphic above. However, same-sex relationships are illegal:

Article 520 Three years imprisonment shall be punished by nature violates the mjamah. (This has been Google translated from Arabic).

The following country lacks adequate information on LGBTQ+ issues, so they have not been included in our LGBTQ+ Danger Index graphic above. However, same-sex relationships are illegal:

Section 152(2).

152.— (2) Any person who:— ( a ) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (6) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for ten years.

Asia/Pacific

Sections 377A, 377B, 377D.

Carnal intercourse against the order of nature 377A. Any person who has sexual connection with another person by the introduction of the penis into the anus or mouth of the other person is said to commit carnal intercourse against the order of nature. Explanation—Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual connection necessary to the offence described in this section.

Punishment for committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature 377B. Whoever voluntarily commits carnal intercourse against the order of nature shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years, and shall also be punished with whipping.

Outrages on decency 377D. Any person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any person of, any act of gross indecency with another person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.

Source: Malaysia Penal Code, 2006, section 377A, 377B, 377D. State Sharia (Islamic) laws also apply. Myanmar* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -118

Sections 377. Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with transportation for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Source: Penal Code of 1860, section 377. Maldives* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -100

Sections 410, 411, 412.

Section 410 – Unlawful Marriage (a) Unlawful Marriage. A person commits an offense if: (8) two persons of the same sex enter into a marriage;

Section 411 – Unlawful Sexual Intercourse (a) Unlawful Intercourse. A person commits an offense if: (1) he engages in sexual intercourse (2) he engages in sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex. (b) Grading. [(d) Additional Punishment Authorized. In addition to the punishment authorized under Chapter 90, to impose the penalty imposed under Islamic Sharia, an additional punishment of 100 lashes is authorized for the offense.]* (f) Definitions. (2) “Same- sex intercourse means”; (A) Insertion by a man his sexual organ or any object into the anus of another man for sexual gratification. Or the insertion into another mans mouth the penis of a man or (B) Insertion of a woman’s organ or any object into the vagina or anus of another woman for sexual gratification. (3) “Lashes” means the symbolic punishment of striking an offender’s back with a short length of rope in a manner not designed to cause bodily injury. A single person must inflict all of the lashes prescribed as punishment, and he may only drive the rope using his wrists; he may not use any other part of his arm or movement in his shoulders, hips, back, legs or torso for that purpose.]9

Section 412 – Unlawful Sexual Contact (a) Unlawful Intercourse. A person commits an offense if: (b) Offense Defined. A person engaging in sexual contact with a person of the same is committing an offense. (c) Prohibition. “prohibited sexual contact” means indecent acts other than the offenses prescribed under Section 411 (a) of this Code, with a person of same sex, or with a person of the opposite sex other than with a person to whom he is married, or with an animal, for obtaining sexual gratification.

Source: Maldives Penal Code, Section 410, 411, 412. Sri Lanka* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -91

Sections 365, 365A.

Article 365. Unnatural ofences [AGAINST THE ORDER OF NATURE] “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years […] Explanation – penetration is sufcient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the ofence described in this section.”

Article 365A. Acts of gross indecency between persons [GROSS INDECENCY] “Any person who, in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any person of any act of gross indecency with another person, shall be guilty of an ofence and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with a fne, or with both and where the ofence is committed by a person over eighteen (18) years of age in respect of any person under sixteen (16) years of age shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years and not exceeding 20 years and with a fne and shall also be ordered to pay compensation of amount determined by court to the person in respect of whom the ofence was committed for the injuries caused to such a person.”

Source: Penal Code (as amended by the Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 22 of 1995), articles 365, 365A. Bangladesh* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -9

Section 377: Unnatural offenses. Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offense described in this section.

Source: Penal Code 1860, section 377. Bhutan LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: 16

Section 213, 214

Unnatural sex 213. A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of unnatural sex, if the defendant engages in sodomy or any other sexual conduct that is against the order of nature.

Grading of unnatural sex 214. The offence of unnatural sex shall be a petty misdemeanour.

Source: Penal Code of Bhutan, 2004, Chapter 14: Sexual Offences, Section 213. Brunei* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -200

Article 377

Unnatural offences. 377. Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine. [S 12/97] Explanation — Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

Sections 153, 155.

153. Any person who- (a) commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or (b) permits a male person to commit buggery with him or her, shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

Indecent practices between males: 155. Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

Source: Kiribati Penal Code, Revised Edition 1977, section 153, 155. Papua New Guinea* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -80

Sections 210, 212.

210. 1. UNNATURAL OFFENCES. (1)A person who– (a) sexually penetrates any person against the order of nature; or (b) sexually penetrates an animal; or (c) permits a male person to sexually penetrates him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of a crime. Penalty: Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years. (2) A person who attempts to commit an offence against Subsection (1) is guilty of a crime. Penalty: imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.

212. INDECENT PRACTICES BETWEEN MALES. (1) A male person who, whether in public or private– (a) commits an act of gross indecency with another male person; or (b) procures another male person to commit an act of gross indecency with him; or (c) attempts to procure the commission of any such act by a male person with himself or with another male person, is guilty of a misdemeanour. Penalty: Imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

Source: Criminal Code Act 1974, section 210, 212. Samoa* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: 48

Section 67: Sodomy. (1) A person who commits sodomy is liable: (a) where the act of sodomy is committed on a female, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years; or (b) where the act of sodomy is committed on a male, and at the time of the act that male is under the age of 16 years and the offender is of or over the age of 21 years, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years; or (c) in any other case, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years. (2) Sodomy is complete upon penetration. (3) It is no defence to a charge under this section that the other party consented

Source: Crimes Act 2013, No. 10, section 67. Solomon Islands* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -85

Sections 160, 162.

160. Any person who- (a) commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or (b) permits a male person to commit buggery with him or her, shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.

162. Any person who, whether in public or private – (a) commits any act of gross indecency with another of the same sex; (b) procures another of the same sex to commit any act of gross indecency; or (c) attempts to procure the commission of any act of gross indecency by persons of the same sex, shall be guilty of a felony and be liable to imprisonment for five years.

Source: Penal Code (Revised Edition 1996), sections 160-162. Tonga* LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -155

Sections 136, 139, 142.

136 Sodomy and bestiality. Whoever shall be convicted of the crime of sodomy with another person or bestiality with any animal shall be liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any period not exceeding ten years and such animal shall be killed by a public officer. (Substituted by Act 9 of 1987.)

139 Attempted sodomy, indecent assault upon a male. Whoever shall attempt to commit the said abominable crime of sodomy or shall be guilty of an assault with intent to commit the same or of any indecent assault upon any male person shall be liable at the direction of the Court to imprisonment for any term not exceeding 10 years.

142 Whipping for certain offences. Whenever any male person shall be convicted of any offence against sections 106, 107, 115, 118, 121, 122, 125, 132, 136 and 139 of this Act the Court may, in its discretion in lieu of or in addition to any sentence of imprisonment authorised under this Act order the person so convicted to be whipped in accordance with the provisions of section 31 of this Act. (Substituted by Act 9 of 1987.)

LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index Score: -65

Article 135

(1) Sodomy, that is, sexual intercourse between a man and a man, shall be punishable by imprisonment for up to two years, with or without the obligation to reside in a certain locality for a period of two to five years.

Source: Criminal Code of Turkmenistan

Sections 153, 154, 155

153 Unnatural offences Any person who — (a) commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or (b) permits a male person to commit buggery with him or her, shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for14 years.

154 Attempts to commit unnatural offences and indecent assault Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in the last preceeding section, or who is guilty of any assault with intent to commit the same, or any indecent assault upon any male person shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

155 Indecent practices between males Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 5 years.

Source: Tuvalu Penal Code

Sections 154, 155.

154. Indecency between males – (1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years who, bring a male,- (a) Indecently assaults any other male; or (b) Does any indecent act with or upon any other male; or (c) Induces or permits any other male to do any indecent act with or upon him. (2) No boy under the age of fifteen years shall be charged with committing or being a party to an offence against paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section, unless the other male was under the age of twenty-one years. (3) It is not defence to a charge under this section that the other party consented.

155. Sodomy – (1) Every one who commits sodomy is liable- (a) Where the act of sodomy is committed on a female, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years; (b) Where the act of sodomy is committed on a male, and at the time of the act that male is under the age of fifteen years and the offender is of over the age of twenty-one years, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years; (c) In any other case, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years. (2) This offence is complete upon penetration. (3) Where sodomy is committed on any person under the age of fifteen years he shall not be charged with being a party to that offence, but he may be charged with being a party to an offence against section 154 of this Act in say case to which that section is applicable. (4) It is no defence to a charge under this section that the other party consented.

South America

(Click the country name for more details on their anti-LGBTQ+ laws)

Articles 352, 354.

352. Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission, or procures or attempts to procure the commission, by any male person, of any act of gross indecency with any other male person shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years.

354. Everyone who commits buggery, either with a human being or with any other living creature, shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for life.

The homophobic legacy of the British Empire

Indian transgender women

As noted, an asterisk next to the country names in the above list means that it was a former British colony. A whopping 44 of the 66 countries that have illegal same-sex relationships were once part of the British Empire. That is over 66%! This isn’t a coincidence. In almost all cases, the laws outlawing consensual gay sex were put into place under British rule and were left in place following independence.

India is an example country that has only in 2018 managed to annul Section 377, a British colonial-era law prohibiting “unnatural acts,” in order to legalize consensual gay sex. Ancient Indian literature such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana have many references to LGBTQ+ heroes including transgender warriors and two queens who made love in order for one queen to get pregnant with an heir for their kingdom. Long story short, this points to the fact that it was likely the British influence that largely led to Indian homophobia in the first place.

With this being said, all these countries have the choice and ability to update their laws. And in most cases, these former British colonies have been fully independent for half a century or more and have chosen not to change these antiquated laws. Long story short, the British influence may have brought the “sodomy” laws in the first place but the local attitudes and customs have decided to keep them .

Which are the top 50 LGBTQ+ safe countries for travelers?

Protestor holding rainbow flag

  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • Switzerland
  • South Africa
  • New Zealand
  • United States
  • Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • Czech Republic

One country might surprise you for not ranking higher on our list: the United States. One reason for that is, of course, that there is a great deal of variation in gay rights depending on the state you’re in . There are also no constitutional or broad protections for LGBTQ+ rights under federal law in the U.S. Also, in some states, LGBTQ+ youth do not have access to helpful information, with these so-called “no-promo homo” laws counting in the “propaganda/morality” category. The U.S. might have come far, but it has a long way to go in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, especially for young transgender people .

How many countries have legalized gay marriage?

LGBTQ+ protestors at an event

As of now, 30 countries (plus Guam, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico) have marriage equality, with Switzerland joining in July 2022. 15 countries recognize civil unions or partnerships. 9 countries do not allow marriage equality for their citizens but formally recognize foreign marriages.

Countries with marriage equality laws are often great spots for LGBT+ vacations, but be aware that gay travel to rural or fundamentalist communities can be problematic in almost any country — definitely don’t make assumptions when visiting smaller towns and communities.

Global transgender murder rates

Protest with "marcha del orgullo" sign

TvT (Transrespect versus Transphobia) Worldwide tracks the instances of transgender people who have been murdered around the world. As of this publishing, over 4,000 trans murders have been tracked during the past 13 years with 1,645 of those crimes taking place in Brazil alone.

Countries with the highest rates of transgender murders (per million residents):

  • Honduras – 11.80
  • El Salvador – 9.30
  • Brazil – 8.25
  • Puerto Rico – 5.64
  • Belize – 5.12
  • Guyana – 5.11
  • Mexico – 5.09
  • Colombia – 4.63
  • Venezuela – 4.59
  • Dominican Republic – 4.38
  • Uruguay – 4.04
  • Guatemala – 3.92
  • Ecuador – 3.28
  • Argentina – 2.52
  • Fiji – 2.25

Why are 14 of these 15 countries with the highest trans murder rates located in Central and South America?

The majority of reported trans murders are currently happening within Central and South America. But why is transgender murder such a frequent occurrence in Latin America? One article from Equal Times posits that a heavily patriarchal society combined with high transgender rates of sex work may be contributing factors. As many transgender individuals are shunned by their families, they turn to sex work to survive, which carries an additional risk to their safety. It is estimated that an extremely high number of transgender individuals are living in poverty , and only an estimated 25% of trans women will complete secondary school in Latin America.

The ostracization of individuals from their families and communities is considered another major factor in the high rates of violence and murder against LGBTQ+ people within Latin America. Additionally, police are often not a source of safety, and governmental protections are not in place to support those most vulnerable.

Learn more about the plight of trans people in Latin America:

  • Fighting transfemicide in the Americas
  • Brazil continues to be the country with the largest number of trans people killed
  • Transgender immigrants who fled Latin America still face uncertainty in the US
  • Three lives, one message: Stop killing Mexico’s transgender women

What other countries might be a problem for LGBTQ+ international travelers?

What other countries might be a problem for LGBTQ+ international travelers?

114 of the 203 countries offer at least some form of legal protection for LGBTQ+ people, but 82 of the 202 countries penalize either sexual acts, being trans, or the dissemination of information about LGBTQ+ rights. Many countries have confusing or inconsistent legislation, allowing for protections among some of the LGBTQ+ community while penalizing or harming others. This creates a grey area where it’s not quite safe to be out but not immediately threatening.

One of those countries is Japan . While LGBTQ+ representation in Japanese media has mostly been positive, and the Japanese public has consistently polled in favor of same-sex marriage, there’s a long way to go as far as legislation outside of the major cities.

But the conversation about danger is a little bit different than the question of which countries do not allow gay marriage. Japan is rarely dangerous, with 35% of locals saying Japan is a “good place” for gay people to live, while Russia frequently polls at only 9%. Countries like Armenia (at 4%), Kyrgyzstan (7%), and Mongolia (17%) all may be bad places to go as well, despite not having any formal anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that could harm travelers.

Beyond gay-marriage-illegal countries, here are some real problem places among the list of most-visited countries in the world:

  • China — China’s relationship to LGBTQ+ culture is dubious to say the least. Homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder as of 2001, and the consensus is that homosexuality is legal and that most locals won’t care so long as you find the right bar to hang out in. At the same time, groups and events have frequently been banned, and censorship laws have frequently been used to ban LGBTQ+ content online in China. LGBTQ+ travel is possible, but only with caution and thorough research into the specific cities you’ll be visiting.
  • Russia — Russia has gained increasing international infamy for the way the government treats its LGBTQ+ citizens. Activists have died or gone missing, and individuals who followed Russian gay marriage laws to the letter have been forced to flee the country . That’s ignoring the purges and torture happening in Chechnya . Rights have regressed in recent years, and travel isn’t advised, despite homosexuality being legal on paper.
  • Indonesia — LGBTQ+ rights are increasingly considered to be a “moral threat” in Indonesia, with a law against pornography being used for any non-pornographic, pro-LGBTQ+ content. Meanwhile, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has only gotten worse as a result of this persecution. While it’s not illegal in the country, homosexuality could result in public humiliation and arrests nevertheless . This has become more perilous with the 2022 legislation passed that will outlaw all sex outside of marriage.

Iraq , Mozambique , and Bahrain are also examples of countries where same-sex relations are not illegal in the traditional sense but expression of LGBTQ+ sexuality has been suppressed and may still be considered “indecency” with legal consequences, depending on the circumstance.

If the country you want to visit is in one of those grey areas, consider reading more about it, talking to fellow travelers, or doing a bit more research before booking a flight.

If you don’t know whether or not the country you’re visiting will be safe, check the U.S. State Department’s write-ups for LGBTQ+ travelers . The Human Rights Watch’s country profiles are a good place to find information, too.

37 safety tips shared by four LGBTQ+ travel experts

37 safety tips shared by four LGBTQ+ travel experts

As one can plainly see, LGBTQ+ travel safety varies a great deal, from relative comfort to the real possibility of danger. We looked at the specific legal status of rights abroad as well as polling information to create our LGBTQ+ travel index, but the on-the-street experience can be much more nuanced. Because anti-LGBTQ+ crime and harassment is rarely reported, especially not on an international scale, it’s hard to find data to inform travelers of what walking the streets might be like. Beyond our list, ask other queer people and allies there before you go. Make an online friend, do your research, and take your time.

Want to get tips from our four LGBTQ+ travel experts?

Keep reading!

8 tips from a trans travel expert

Aaron Edwards, an FTM trans travel blogger, shares the following helpful tips on staying safe while traveling.

1. Remember to bring all your documents

Aaron Edwards

2. Research your destination thoroughly

Read up on local laws regarding LGBTQ+ people. Some places are much more restrictive than others and it is better to know your rights and not need them than to be stuck in a jail cell somewhere.

3. Knowing your next bathroom stop is must

Always know where your next bathroom stop will be or have a backup bathroom plan in case you are not comfortable with the situation.

4. Some destinations are best to avoid and travel insurance is worth it

Do your research and know which locations are best to avoid. I also recommend getting a good travel insurance plan no matter what your destination is because you never know when you might need it.

5. Have a letter from your doctor handy at the airport

If you are on HRT (hormone replacement therapy), always try to bring a doctor’s note to keep with your medication in your bag in case you have issues with airport security.

6. You will probably be questioned

Brace yourself to be questioned. A lot of cultures are known for their bluntness. Even people who pass extremely well can get stopped and asked questions based on documents, appearance, etc.

7. If possible, travel with a friend or a group

When in doubt, be with people. There is safety in numbers, especially if they are your friends and people who will stand up for you if it is needed. This applies whether you’re on a camping trip , staying at Airbnbs or at regular hotels.

8. Network via LGBTQ+ Facebook groups

Join transgender or LGBTQ+ related Facebook groups. It is an easy way to find other trans people who LIVE where you are traveling. They can give you their personal experiences, ideas of places to go, or even offer to hang out with you and give you a local tour.

12 travel safety tips from a gay couple

Derek and Mike are an American couple living in Europe and are the authors of Robe Trotting . They have written the following useful tips.

1. Check out Misterbnb

Derek Hartman

2. Bring copies of your important documents

All travelers should carry backup copies of their passport and other personal information, but there are some extra considerations that LGBTQ+ travelers should consider. It isn’t fun to think about, but Healthcare Power of Attorney and Hospital Visitation Authorization documents are essential. This is because domestic partnership and same-sex marriage laws differ widely around the world. We carry these documents on a flash drive and our attorney has prepared laminated wallet-sized Hospital Visitation Authorizations. This is something we hope to never use, but we feel better having when we travel. A neck wallet can be a great way to carry your most important documents including your passport etc.

3. Know your rights

Transgender and gender non-conforming travelers face higher levels of marginalization than other “LGB” travelers. For trans and gender non-conforming travelers, it’s important to know your rights, especially in airports. There are legal protections in the EU, UK, and USA to protect trans and gender non-conforming air travelers. Do some additional research when traveling outside of America, the UK, and Europe. In this travel zone, here are a few tips and expectations.

4. Select the gender that appears on your Government ID

When booking tickets, indicate the gender that appears on your government-issued identification. Sometimes this is different than the gender you present, but the legal requirement is only for the names on your ID and travel documents to match. You should never be questioned or forced to further prove your gender based on your gender presentation.

5. Pat-downs are based on the gender you present, not your ID

If a security pat-down is required, it must be completed by security personnel of the same sex as the passenger. In a pat-down situation, it will be based on the gender that the passenger presents and not their government-issued ID.

6. Body scanners don’t actually show your body

For trans and non-binary travelers worried about body scanners, the countries mentioned do not display the actual scan of your body to security personnel. In fact, all passenger images are displayed as generic body forms on the screens visible to staff. The screen does identify areas that should be screened more closely, but it uses a generic body form. For example, there would be a highlighted box around the midsection of the form if a traveler forgets to remove their belt. It does not show any details of the body or anatomy.

7. Wearing a prosthetic device or binder can lead to further questioning

Trans and non-binary travelers should be prepared for additional questioning if wearing prosthetic devices or binders. These travelers are not required to show, remove or lift clothing to reveal these devices. Simply answer any questions in a straight-forward manner and speak to a supervisor if any of those described situations should arise.

8. Consider LGBTQ+ tours

We all find safety in numbers, so consider LGBTQ+ tours that will specialize in gay travel. Similarly, consider booking a traditional tour company where you will have a local guide who is familiar with customs, speaks the language, and can advise you on how to stay safe while exploring the world. Many tour companies display their credentials in serving the LGBTQ+ community on their websites. You can also contact their customer service staff with additional concerns or specific questions on travel to certain destinations.

9. Know the local laws in the country you plan to visit

Do some research on the laws that exist in each country you plan to visit. Specifically, look up how often they’re enforced and when the laws were written. For example in Africa, many laws are left-over colonial-era codes that were put in place by other powers and are not enforced or are selectively enforced. For example, Morocco only sporadically enforces its anti-LGBTQ+ law and does not enforce it in resort towns like Marrakech . It’s mostly a law that still exists because of Islamic morality. Morocco even has an LGBTQ+ rights group and is largely viewed as tolerant. Some nations, like Uganda, are actively creating and expanding laws that target the LGBTQ+ community with penalties of death. Make a distinction between countries like Morocco and Uganda when considering your travels.

10. Remember to enjoy the local historic sites and cuisines

Focus on what you can do, and not what you can’t. Many countries will have a less visible LGBTQ+ community and social scene. Sometimes, this can be a blessing in disguise because it frees up your trip for other meaningful activities. Travel should be more than gay bars and nightclubs. Focus on what you can do like touring historic sites, visiting museums and trying new cuisines. It can be tough for a couple to resist public displays of affection, but no laws will be able to keep you from building travel memories, and you can make it up with extra private displays of affection.

11. Be careful with the location feature of dating apps

On gay apps like Grindr and Scruff, turn off the location feature. Even in countries where your rights are protected, gay-bashing can be an issue. In the Ukraine, for example, the “how far away” location feature is disabled nation-wide because of past incidents. Still, there is a thriving gay culture and plenty of gay locals. Always exercise caution and meet strangers in public spaces.

12. Always be culturally aware

Be culturally aware when you’re traveling anywhere. In many nations, public displays of affection from any couple, same or differing sex, are a taboo. Comply with these customs without feeling singled out. It may still be upsetting, but know that different-sex couples are also conforming their behavior to local norms. Similarly, some conservative destinations will have different norms on appearance and dress. It can be triggering to change your appearance, clothing, mannerisms, and behavior if you are LGBTQ+. Previous life experiences like bullying can bring up tough emotions but know that it’s most often local customs and not bigotry that require cultural conformity. I realize that for some individuals that will be easier than for others. My advice comes from a point of privilege as a masculine cis-gendered male, but I truly feel that certain sacrifices are worth it to travel.

9 safety tips from a traveling lesbian couple

Meg Ten Eyck is the creator of EveryQueer.com which is a website dedicated to inspiring and equipping LGBTQ+ travelers to live a life of adventures. She shared the following tips.

1. Cisgender people will most likely have fewer issues

Meg and Lindsay Cale

2. Respect local customs

Be aware of local gender expectations. Are women supposed to be covered, wear headscarves or avoid certain activities? Try to respect local customs and blend in as much as possible.

3. Have someone you trust know your itinerary

Be sure to leave your itinerary and contact information with someone you trust. It’s always a good idea to have someone back home who has an idea of what you’re up to and where you plan on heading. It doesn’t have to be a minute-to-minute breakdown, contact information of hotels and flight numbers will work just fine.

4. Find LGBTQ+ friendly businesses before you leave

Consider using the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association as a resource for finding LGBTQ+ owned and affirming businesses in countries where you may have more concerns. Knowing that a business is owned by LGBTQ+ people or specifically seeks out LGBTQ+ accreditation may offer some peace of mind.

5. Be careful with PDA’s in certain countries

Be mindful of public displays of affection, in some locations like Russia or Morocco, mundane actions like holding hands, requesting a double bed at a hotel, casual touching, and kissing can be considered public displays. In some countries these actions are illegal and the consequences can be anything from a fine to imprisonment to being punishable by death. Not to be overly sensationalist here, there are lots of people who have traveled in anti-LGBTQ+ countries and have been just fine. There are also people who have not. It’s a case-by-case situation.

6. Be sure that sex toys are legal

In some countries, traveling with sexually explicit material can be used as evidence of sex work which may result in you being detained while traveling. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people are often unfairly targeted, be aware that in recent years there have been a few instances where people have used sex toys to victimize LGBTQ+ travelers. One couple was the victim of an alleged hate crime by TSA agents and another couple was arrested in Malaysia for being in possession of a sex toy. Keep in mind that traveling with these items into some countries is illegal. Be very cautious and do your homework before crossing borders with anything you think could be questionable.

7. Consider who you disclose your identity to

Consider who you disclose your identity to while you are traveling in countries that are not as LGBTQ-affirming as your home country.

8. Walk with confidence

Appear confident while walking in public areas. The more afraid and buckled over you look, the more of a target you’ll appear to be.

9. Invest in your personal safety

When in doubt invest in personal safety, if taking the more expensive cab ride over the bus ride seems like the safer option for you, do it.

8 tips from a gay travel expert

Andrew Dobson runs Dobbernationloves , an LGBTQ+ travel blog based in Toronto and shares these very helpful tips on international travel safety.

1. Take precautions with dating apps

Andrew Dobson

2. Use the geo search to research your destination prior to leaving home

Use the geo-search feature on dating apps like Scruff and Grindr before you depart for your trip. You can ask locals about what the most popular gay bars and businesses are before you even arrive. Many destinations have suffered from gay bar closures so weekly or monthly LGBTQ+ parties are the norm and locals are always in the know.

3. Connect with the locals before you arrive

Use gay dating apps to connect with locals before you arrive and you’ll find friendly folks keen to show a tourist around. This is particularly helpful if you’re visiting a country like Germany where bartenders may not speak English.

4. Keep spots you discover confidential in sensitive destinations

If you’re visiting places like Egypt or Jordan where the LGBTQ+ community is largely underground for safety reasons, be sure to keep the spots you discover confidential to protect the local LGBTQ+ community. Posting about a popular gay coffee shop hangout in Cairo on TripAdvisor, for example, is a no-no.

5. Negative LGBTQ+ laws may not reflect tourist areas

Remember that just because a country’s government may have negative LGBTQ+ policies, doesn’t mean it isn’t a great gay holiday destination. The Maldives, for example, has laws in place for locals but during our visit to the Four Seasons Maldives, a majority of the guests at the resort were gay couples. Research the hotel and resort brands you’re planning on staying with before you book to ensure they are LGBTQ+ friendly.

6. Certain regions may be very LGBTQ+ friendly within a conservative country

Indonesia is the largest known as a conservative Muslim country but ironically the island of Bali is considered to be one of the best LGBTQ+ destinations in Asia. There can be significant tolerance differences based on each region you visit. Many hotels host luxurious gay honeymoons in Bali

7. Do your research on festival dates

Research the annual LGBTQ+ festivals to determine when the destination is likely to offer the most fun on holiday. In North America, we’re familiar with Pride parades but in Europe, the annual festival is referred to as CSD Celebrations or Christopher Street Day. LGBTQ+ festivals vary based on the culture of a place and its people. North American and Europe are known for flashy parades and all-night parties, where some smaller towns or more reserved countries focus on political protest, poetry readings or events centered around theatre and film.

Contact your hotel ahead of time

If you’re traveling with a same-sex friend or partner we always suggest contacting your hotel in advance to confirm what sort of bedding they offer. In some countries, two men will always be booked into a room with separate beds. In other countries, they’re happy to provide one bed for two men but you’d have to specify that in advance as they’ll automatically assume you’re traveling friends.

Why we wrote this article & did this study

Lyric grew up in Hollywood surrounded by actors, producers, and what she thought was a very open and accepting community for LGBTQ+ individuals. It wasn’t until she was 13 when she overheard her Uncle explaining that he was concerned he would be fired from an acting job if they found out he was gay, that she realized even one of the most liberal US communities was still plagued with homophobia.

Since then, LGBTQ+ rights have been at the forefront of Lyric’s awareness. She wondered how safe the US was for the LGBTQ+ community vs the rest of the world after hearing stories from other travelers. We then decided to dive deep into the subject and what we found was shocking.

So many questions entered our minds. For example, “Is it safe to travel to countries where the death penalty or life imprisonment is still a sentence for being openly gay?”

As travel journalists, we wanted to help the LGBTQ+ community educate themselves on the very complex and layered world of staying safe during international travel. But also, to try to bring more awareness to the often horrific treatment of LGBTQ+ people in many parts of the world. And hopefully, this will bring about change, acceptance, and love for all people regardless of their orientation.

How can you help bring about change?

Are you an ally and upset by this information? Here are two obvious ways you can help:

1. Share this article. Bringing awareness to a problem is the first step to fixing it. Share it on social media, send it to your loved ones and anyone you think should see it.

2. Consider donating to organizations that are making a difference. For example, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association or Human Rights Watch are organizations working to help find and report these issues and to help make the whole world — not just a piece of it — safer for LGBTQ+ people.

  • Recognition of same-sex relationships 2020 – Human Rights Watch
  • LGBTQ+ Worker Protections 2020 – ILGA
  • Anti Discrimination Laws 2020 – ILGA
  • Criminalization of Hate-Based Violence 2020 – ILGA
  • Adoption Recognition 2020 – ILGA
  • Gallup World Poll (2020 Data)
  • Transgender Rights – Wikipedia
  • Transgender Murder Monitoring – TvT
  • Global Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws 2020 – Human Rights Watch
  • Equaldex: The Collaborative LGBT Rights Knowledge Base

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The Best and Worst Countries for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Lgbtq+ travel.

In order to help LGBTQ+ tourists travel safely, the German portal Spartacus started publishing the Gay Travel Index in 2012. In the 2023 edition, the ranking compared 203 countries and territories based on the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people in each location.

According to the index, Malta ranks first worldwide as the safest and most open country for LGBT+ travelers in 2023. It is the only country to receive a score of 13, simultaneously scoring points for its inclusive laws and rights - including anti-discrimination laws, its stance on transgender rights and the fact adoption is allowed - as well as not losing any points for discrimination, such as through anti-gay laws, religious influences or pride being banned. It does lose one point, however, for hostility among locals.

Canada and Switzerland also rank highly on the index with 12 points each, while the United States performs slightly worse with only five points, ranking alongside South Africa, Slovenia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Greece, Costa Rica and Brazil. The U.S. lost one point under the Murders category as well as for Religious Influence and scored 0 points for its stance on so-called “ conversion therapy ”, the equal age of consent, intersex rights and transgender rights. When looking at a ranking of US states, California, New York, Washington, and Colorado ranked among the most open.

At the other end of the spectrum, Saudi Arabia, Iran, the Republic of Chechnya in Russia and Afghanistan each received -19 points, signaling that they are dangerous countries for LGBT+ travelers, where homosexuals are persecuted and killed.

The Middle East and North Africa are the regions least safe for LGBTQ+ travelers, while Latin America proves to be generally more welcoming than much of Asia – with the exception of Taiwan which scores highly (9). India also appears in green on the map, having improved from 1 point in 2021 to 4 points in 2023, while Malaysia hit a low -13 and Indonesia sank from 117th to 159th place following a new criminal law influenced by fundamentalism.

To develop the index, the creators looked at 17 categories ranging from marriage for all to the death penalty for LGBTQ+ people. According to the authors of the report, the index is intended with all kinds of travelers in mind, including those looking to travel to countries where the LGBT+ community is an accepted and loved part of society as well as for those consciously looking to travel to a country in order to enter into a dialogue with the oppressed local queer community.

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This chart shows the safest and least safe countries for LGBTQ+ travelers according to the Gay Travel Index 2023.

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Map: 4.8-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes New Jersey

By William B. Davis ,  Madison Dong ,  Judson Jones ,  John Keefe ,  Bea Malsky and Lazaro Gamio

Shake intensity

A light, 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck in New Jersey on Friday, according to the United States Geological Survey. The quake was felt across the New York City metropolitan area, and from Philadelphia to Boston.

The temblor happened at 10:23 a.m. Eastern about 4 miles north of Whitehouse Station, N.J., data from the agency shows.

As seismologists review available data, they may revise the earthquake's reported magnitude. Additional information collected about the earthquake may also prompt U.S.G.S. scientists to update the shake-severity map.

Aftershocks in the region

At 5:59 p.m. Eastern on Friday, a light aftershock with a magnitude of 3.8 struck near Gladstone, New Jersey, according to U.S.G.S. (The agency initially gave the quake a preliminary magnitude of 4.0.)

An aftershock is usually a smaller earthquake that follows a larger one in the same general area. Aftershocks are typically minor adjustments along the portion of a fault that slipped at the time of the initial earthquake.

Quakes and aftershocks within 100 miles

Aftershocks can occur days, weeks or even years after the first earthquake. These events can be of equal or larger magnitude to the initial earthquake, and they can continue to affect already damaged locations.

How this quake compares

The U.S.G.S. has logged 188 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or greater within a 250-mile radius of New York City since 1957. In that timeframe, only seven have had a magnitude at or above 4.5. Today’s quake had the third-highest magnitude in the available data.

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Today’s earthquake

Magnitude 4.8

250-mile radius

from New York City

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Source: U. S.G.S.

By Lazaro Gamio

Source: United States Geological Survey | Notes: Shaking categories are based on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale. When aftershock data is available, the corresponding maps and charts include earthquakes within 100 miles and seven days of the initial quake. All times above are Eastern. Shake data is as of Friday, April 5 at 10:44 a.m. Eastern. Aftershocks data is as of Sunday, April 7 at 11:54 a.m. Eastern.

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Cloud coverage will 'most likely' impede eclipse viewing in Texas, NWS reports

With three days to go until the eclipse, cloud coverage and even some rain could be in the forecast for Texas, potentially hindering the event's full effect on Monday afternoon.

What is the forecast for Texas during the solar eclipse?

The large majority of Texas will experience overcast ranging from 30-90%, according to the National Weather Service as of Thursday. The further south, the more cloud coverage, with 90% of San Antonio's skies covered by clouds.

The moon will begin covering the sun around noon and will be fully covered by 1:30 p.m. near Del Rio and trace a line northeast across Texas. Cloud coverage is "most likely" to impede the path of totality in Texas, according to the National Weather Service .

Weather following the eclipse could hinder travel

There is a 20-30% chance of showers during the eclipse across Texas, according to the National Weather Service . Severe weather and flash flooding is possible in the southern part of the country, including Texas. National Weather Service warned of potentially hazardous travel after the eclipse due to a 60-90% chance of thunderstorms in the evening.

However, the agency has noted that the event is several days out, so there's still time for the weather to change . Plus, it's  possible that clouds could vanish  as the solar eclipse makes its way over the state.

More: Why science says clouds could disappear as solar eclipse begins to pass over Texas

While a similar event happened seven years ago, this rare phenomenon will be a couple of thousand miles closer to Earth than previous occurrences. It will be partially visible in all 48 contiguous states and marks the last total solar eclipse until August 23, 2044, according to NASA.

Japan issues evacuation advisory for Okinawa areas after earthquake, tsunami

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Airline passengers in parts of the United Kingdom and Ireland faced travel disruption at airports on Saturday due to flight cancellations as a storm swept across both countries and left thousands of Irish homes with power outages.

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4.8 magnitude earthquake rattles NYC, New Jersey: Live updates

NEW YORK – A 4.8 magnitude earthquake recorded in New Jersey that shook residents in surrounding states and New York City on Friday morning was one of the strongest in state history.

The temblor was reported about 5 miles north of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, at about 10:23 a.m. Friday, according to the United States Geological Survey. The epicenter was about 45 miles from New York City, where residents reported shaking furniture and floors.

“Earthquakes in this region are uncommon but not unexpected. It’s likely people near the epicenter are going to feel aftershocks for this earthquake in the magnitude 2-3 range, and there’s a small chance there can be an earthquake as large or larger, following an earthquake like this,” Paul Earle, a seismologist at the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program told reporters. “In terms of our operations, this is a routine earthquake … Immediately we knew this would be of high interest and important to people who don’t feel earthquakes a lot.”

People reported feeling the shaking as far north as Maine and as far south as Norfolk, Virginia, following the quake, according to USGS. Scientists said those in the affected area should listen to local emergency officials and be prepared to seek cover if aftershocks occur.

“If you feel shaking, drop, cover and hold,” Earle said.

No major disruptions or damage have been reported in New Jersey or New York.

"We have activated our State Emergency Operations Center. Please do not call 911 unless you have an actual emergency," said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

President Joe Biden spoke with Murphy about the earthquake and the White House is monitoring the situation.

“He thinks everything's under control,” Biden told reporters before leaving the White House for a trip to Baltimore. “He’s not too concerned about it, the governor of New Jersey, so things are all right.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the quake was felt throughout New York, and officials are assessing impacts and any potential damage.

In Yonkers, New York, Mayor Mike Spano said City Hall shook but no injuries were reported.

"A few moments ago our entire house shook for about 25 seconds or so here in Mendham, New Jersey," former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said.

USGS is still investigating the exact fault line at the center of Friday’s quake and said it occurred in a region with dozens of fault lines that were more active millions of years ago.

4.0 magnitude aftershock strikes hours after earthquake

Officials in New York and New Jersey alerted residents to an aftershock Monday evening, nearly eight hours after the earthquake.

A 4.0 magnitude aftershock slammed New Jersey at around 6 p.m., with an epicenter about four miles southwest of Gladstone, according to the USGS. New York City’s emergency notification system alerted residents to the aftershock minutes later, urging people to remain indoors and call 911 if injured.

Hochul said there were no reports of serious damage after the aftershock, and officials were continuing to assess critical infrastructure.

The aftershock Monday evening was at least the third that USGS recorded after the quake struck.

As of Friday afternoon, the USGS aftershock forecast predicted a 36% chance of aftershocks at a 3.0 magnitude or higher, an 8% chance of aftershocks at a 4.0 magnitude or higher, and a 1% chance for aftershocks at a magnitude of 5.0 or higher over the next week.

USGS scientists said informal observations can be a big help in understanding earthquakes, especially in a region where they’re less common.

“We encourage people to fill out the ‘Did You Feel It?’ reports on our website,” said Sara McBride, a scientist with the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program. “This citizen science project is critical in terms of building our knowledge around earthquakes.”

By midafternoon on Friday, the agency said it had received more than 161,000 reports, and extrapolated that the quake had been felt by millions of people. McBride acknowledged that earthquakes can be nerve-wracking for people who don’t live in seismologically active regions, and said knowledge is power in combatting that discomfort.

“The best thing you can do to relieve any unsettling feelings you might have is to learn how to protect yourself during shaking and how to prepare for earthquakes in the future,” she said.

Man getting vasectomy during earthquake recounts experience

One Horsham, Pennsylvania, man shared his unusual earthquake experience, saying the tremors hit when he was in the middle of receiving a vasectomy.

"The surgeon sort of froze and all of us kind of seemed a bit confused," Justin Allen told USA TODAY . "Even when the surgeon said 'that’s gotta be an earthquake,' I thought he was joking."

Luckily, Allen's doctor was able to resume the procedure after a brief pause, and the rest went off without a hitch. Now recovering at home, Allen said it's an experience no one involved will forget, especially because his social media post about the incident has since gone viral.

"My wife says that 'this is a clear and obvious sign that we should not have any more kids,'" Allen said.

New Jersey resident thought sound from earthquake was an explosion

Madeline Nafus had just finished feeding her 7-week-old baby when, simultaneously, she was thrown off balance and the loudest sound she’d ever heard rang out.

“I thought it was either an explosion or a bombing because of how loud it was,” said Nafus, who lives in Long Valley, New Jersey, a few miles from the earthquake's epicenter. “It was just terrifying.”

Nafus, 29, watched as her light fixtures swung and wine glasses, framed photos and a 6-foot elk head crashed onto the floor. Feeling as if her “house was going to crumble,” she picked up her baby boy, grabbed some blankets and headed outside. Meanwhile, her friend came running downstairs and picked up Nafus’ quivering dog, Olivia, a small golden doodle.

After about 15 seconds, the rumbling went away and only occasional, minor tremors could be felt. Nafus called her husband, who was teaching a golf lesson at the time, and then their 2-year-old’s day care.

“They said the children were all confused and asking a lot of questions but that they were OK,” she said.'

How common are East Coast quakes?

Earthquakes are less frequent in the eastern part of the country than in the west, but they have occurred in every state east of the Mississippi River, according to the USGS.

"Since colonial times people in the New York – Philadelphia – Wilmington urban corridor have felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from infrequent larger ones," according to the USGS. "Moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the urban corridor roughly twice a century, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly every two to three years."

USGS officials also said that even smaller-magnitude quakes are more likely to be felt more widely on the East Coast than similar size quakes on the West Coast due to the rock properties of eastern soil, which can cause concern to East Coasters not used to the tremors.

Rocks in the eastern part of the country are much older than in the west, by up to millions of years. Those older rocks have been exposed to more extreme temperatures and pressure, and faults have had more time to heal. Seismic waves travel across the resulting harder and denser faults much more efficiently, so the effects of a quake are felt across a larger area. In the West, faults are newer and absorb more of the seismic wave energy without spreading as far.

Quake felt in Massachusetts

In Auburn, Massachusetts, more than 200 miles from the earthquake's epicenter, Jerry Steinhelper was on a video call for work when his house began to tremble. His dog Maize started barking, and books and trinkets fell from their shelves. He looked out the window and saw trees shaking.

“I thought at first it may be ice falling off the roof. But it kept going and the entire house was shaking,” he told USA TODAY. “Then I just knew it was an earthquake.”

Steinhelper, 55, lived in San Diego in the 1980s and experienced temblors there, but he’s never felt one in Massachusetts, where he’s been for over 25 years.

“It was an interesting 10 to 15 seconds,” he said.

'It felt like a plane crashed outside' near epicenter

Nicole Kravitz, 33, was baking muffins at the cafe she co-owns with her husband in New Jersey when the floor began to shake. She and the cooks looked at each other for a few moments, and then at some stacked plates and glasses that had started vibrating.

Their eatery, Branchburg's Best, is located in New Jersey's Somerset County, near the epicenter of Friday’s earthquake.

“It felt like a plane crashed outside,” she said. “No one knew what was happening.”

Some workers ran out the door to see if something had smashed into the building while she checked the basement for damage. Meanwhile, Patrick Tucker, her husband, who was picking up beef from a nearby farm, watched agitated chickens and cows run around in their pens, visibly shaken by the quake.

Kravitz said the intensity of the earthquake made her feel like she was back in Southern California, where she had lived for several years before she returned to her home state in 2016.

Quake was one of the strongest to ever impact New Jersey

Friday's earthquake was the most significant in New Jersey since 1884 , when an Aug. 10 earthquake somewhere near Jamaica Bay, New York, toppled chimneys and moved houses off their foundations as far as Rahway, New Jersey, 30 miles away.

Other than that quake, there were only  three earthquakes in modern history  that caused damage in the state: 1737 (New York City), 1783 (west of New York City) and 1927 (New Jersey coast near Asbury), according to New Jersey Office of Emergency Management records.

The Dec. 19, 1737 earthquake is believed by modern experts to have been a 5.2 magnitude quake. Charted as taking place in the greater New York City area, some accounts say its epicenter was near Weehawken. State records show it threw down chimneys. Chimneys were also hurled down during the Nov. 29, 1783 quake. Estimated at a 5.3 magnitude that originated in modern-day Rockaway Township, according to state records, it was felt from Pennsylvania to New England.

The Aug. 10, 1884 quake, estimated at a 5.2 magnitude was the last the state has seen of its significance and was felt from Virginia to Maine, according to state records.

  Read more about New Jersey's earthquake history.

– David M. Zimmer, NorthJersey.com

New Jersey business owner describes worst quake ever felt but went right back to work

It was a busy day for La Bella Salon & Spa in Lebanon, New Jersey, when an earthquake struck near the rural township.

About a dozen stylists and customers, some whom were getting their hair dyed while others got manicures and eyelash extensions, all froze as the building rattled for about 30 seconds.

“People started to feel the shaking, and it got worse and worse. We were like ‘Oh, my god, what is going on?’" said shop owner Rosanne Drechsel. “I thought a truck hit the building or something.”

After the tremor subsided, nearly everyone in the building started receiving texts and phone calls from friends and family, Drechsel, 61, said.

Nothing was damaged and no one was injured, but Drechsel, who was born and raised in New Jersey, said it was “by far the worst earthquake” she had ever felt.

“We all went back to work and finished the appointments,” she said. “Customers are calling now to see if we're still open and if they can still make their appointments later on today.”

'It was scary': Quake rattles shelves in Brooklyn bodega

In Brooklyn, residents said they felt their buildings shake and many went outdoors after the rumbling stopped to check in with neighbors.

Julio Melo, a deli worker, said he thought the sounds of the earthquake resembled those of a large truck going down the street. But when Melo, 32, looked around and saw beer bottles rattling on store shelves, and a potted plant shimmy down the counter, he thought it might be something bigger, he told USA TODAY.

“I looked at my employee and he had the same tragic face on as me, it was scary,” he said at Jenesis’ Grocery Corp. in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

– Claire Thornton

Where was the earthquake felt?

Residents and officials said the earthquake was felt throughout New York, as well as in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. It was also felt as far away as Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 250 miles away from the reported epicenter.

Charita Walcott, a 38-year-old resident in the Bronx borough of New York, said the quake felt "like a violent rumble that lasted about 30 seconds or so."

"It was kind of like being in a drum circle, that vibration," she said.

Earthquakes common in the region, but the size is unusual: Expert

Chuck Ver Straeten, a geologist and curator of sedimentary rocks at the New York State Museum, told USA TODAY it’s not surprising this earthquake happened where it did.

“New York, around New York City going into New Jersey, there’s a lot of earthquakes historically down there. Happens every year,” he said. But it’s less common for them to be of such a high magnitude. It’s not surprising that many people felt it, he said. Usually, earthquakes in the region are at a lower magnitude and less likely to be felt.

Ver Straeten said the real question now is if this is just a precursor to a larger quake.

“You never know what is the earthquake, what is a pre-earthquake, what is an earthquake happening after the main earthquake, you just have to see,” he said. “One slip along the rock fault, when one happens, it makes other areas around there more tense also and they start to slip and you slip again and slip again.”

But, he added, it would be unlikely for a larger quake to follow this one. In the Northeast, it’s more common for one large quake to be followed by smaller aftershocks, rather than a mounting series of tremors. 

What does magnitude mean in an earthquake?

Magnitude is a measurement of the strength of an earthquake . Officially it's called the Moment Magnitude Scale . It's a logarithmic scale , meaning each number is ten times as strong as the one before it. So a 5.2 earthquake is moderate while a 6.2 is strong.

The magnitude and effect of an earthquake, according to Michigan Technological University :

◾ Below 2.5: Generally not felt

◾ 2.5 to 5.4: Minor or no damage

◾ 5.5 to 6.0: Slight damage to buildings

◾ 6.1 to 6.9: Serious damage

◾ 8.0 or greater: Massive damage, can totally destroy communities

Intensity scales, measured in Roman numerals, are used to describe how strong the earthquake felt to people in the area.

According to the California Earthquake Authority , an intensity of I is typically felt only under especially favorable conditions. A IV, which leads to light shaking, is felt indoors by many, but not typically outdoors. It might awaken some people at night and lead to a sensation like a truck striking a building. A parked car would rock. Intensities VI and above would be strong, frightening and felt by all, with the damage increasing up to a X where the shaking would be violent. Some well-built wooden structures would be destroyed and most masonry and frame structures along with their foundations would be ruined.

While you might have heard the term " the Richter Scale " used to describe earthquakes, it is no longer commonly used because it was only valid for certain earthquake frequencies and distance ranges.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Contributing: Reuters

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