The West Bank, Gaza, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen are the most risky areas for gay people.

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In March, the travel site Asher and Lyric released a revised 2021 list of the most risky countries for LGBTQ tourists, including Middle Eastern countries and disputed territories.

“After 250+ 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,’ which will help you find the safest (and least safe) countries for your next trip abroad,” wrote the travel safety blog’s editors, Lyric and Asher Fergusson.

The world’s most dangerous country for the LGBTQ community is Nigeria while the safest country is Canada, according to the study.

Within the top 20 most dangerous nations across the globe, Saudi Arabia ranked second among Middle East and North African nations, followed by Oman (5), Qatar (8), UAE (9), Yemen (10), Sudan (13), West Bank and Gaza (14), Iran (15), Morocco (18), Egypt (19), and Algeria (20).

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“As of now, 28 countries have marriage equality, and 16 countries provide civil unions or partnerships,” Asher and Lyric wrote. “Two countries – Bulgaria and Israel – do not allow marriage equality for their citizens but formally recognize marriages overseas.”

In comparison to almost every other country in the Middle East and North Africa, Israel does not criminalise same-sex relationships.

Qatar’s Islamic government, which has the death penalty for homosexuals, is set to host the FIFA World Cup football tournament in 2022. Gays and lesbians are also executed in Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to a British Wikileaks cable released in 2008, Iran has executed between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians since the 1979 Islamic revolution. According to the Jerusalem Post, Iran’s government openly hanged a man in 2019 for violating the country’s anti-gay statute.

The Post’s disclosure of the 2019 execution in Iran played a role in the US government’s launching of a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality across the world. Richard Grenell, the former US director for national intelligence and ambassador to Germany at the time, jumpstarted the international campaign to stop state-sponsored executions of gays.

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“We looked at the top 150 most-visited countries in the world (by the number of incoming tourists) and then carefully examined LGBTQ+ rights for each country,” Lyric and Asher explained. Our LGBTQ+ travel protection index was developed using a total of nine rating criteria. We have incorporated transgender legal identity laws in this year’s update, which were not included in our initial 2019 study.”

The nine reasons are: legalisation of same-sex marriage, worker protections, discrimination protection, criminalization of crime, adoption acceptance, whether it is a good place to live, transgender legal identity laws, illicit same-sex relationships, and propaganda/morality legislation.


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