Travel and the risk outlook for the LGBTQ+ community

While the security environment for members of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer) community has generally improved, travelers who identify as LGBTQ+ will continue to face unique challenges when conducting domestic or international trips or long-term deployments.

Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is a major barrier to talent mobility, retention and development. Companies that proactively address the safety of their travelers can reduce the number of failed assignments and ensure the fulfilment of business travel objectives. The following risk outlook for LGBTQ+ travelers was provided by the medical and safety experts at Healix, a BCD Marketplace partner.

Global concerns

LGBTQ+ issues are expected to be a continued source of political polarization around the world. The community will continue to face unique challenges. Countries and territories worldwide approach legislation relating to LGBTQ+ activity differently, ranging from full equal rights and protections against discrimination to the death penalty for same-sex relations.

Societal and cultural considerations towards LGBTQ+ issues are likely to remain unchanged in the short-to-medium term. While some progress has been made in recent years, several nations continue actively enforcing discriminatory laws. Discriminatory attitudes are likely to remain in 2023, with minimal changes to legislation expected.

While many developments can be expected in the Asia Pacific region, including the potential decriminalization of same-sex relations in Sri Lanka and the legalization of same-sex unions in Thailand and India, discriminatory policies are likely to remain in countries such as Afghanistan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan.

The security environment in multiple eastern European, Middle Eastern and North African countries continue to be assessed as high or extreme for LGBTQ+ individuals. Of the 68 countries that criminalize same-sex relations worldwide, 33 are in Africa.

How organizations should approach risk mitigation for LGBTQ+ travelers

  1. Create an open environment. If employees are comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation and gender identity, travel risk assessments should be bespoke and consider the location and purpose of travel, as well as the prevailing legal, cultural, logistical and security risks they are likely to face. However, many employees may not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity and it is, therefore, important that organizations have accessible LGBTQ+ travel risk mitigation advice. This can include having LGBTQ+ travel resources available to everyone within the company or offering access to a platform like Healix’s LGBTQ+ e-learning modules. This ensures that all members of your workforce can discreetly access information to keep themselves safe.
  2. Issue country-specific guidelines. These could include informing LGBTQ+ employees to hold business meetings at inconspicuous venues, informing of when large LGBTQ+ events may be staged and what precautions to take, or suggesting ways that LGBTQ+ employees can reduce their risk profiles. The Healix Sentinel Travel Oracle app can be useful for pre-empting potentially volatile protests.
  3. Ensure that ample legal protections are in place, and that employees know how to access these services. As LGBTQ+ employees may face detention, deportation, assault, or imprisonment in some locations, it is advisable to ensure that employees have access to appropriate legal advice and support. Reach out to national embassies and consulates to establish the level of consular support that may be available should it be required..

Steps LGBTQ+ travelers can take to keep themselves safe

  • Maintain a low risk profile at all times – even in locations where society is considered tolerant to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Remain vigilant and ignore provocations. Inform a relevant line manager or HR contact.
  • Avoid public displays of affection where possible.
  • Exercise discretion when disclosing sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Exercise caution using online LGBTQ+ social media platforms.
  • Remain aware of the risks associated with LGBTQ+ venues and ‘gay friendly’ neighborhoods, where travelers may be targeted.


ISO 31030 guidance for different types of travelers

The ISO31030, section 4.3 states that organizations have different types of travelers with a variety of duty of care requirements, and a traveler’s sexual orientation is one of those factors that needs to be considered when assessing travel risks. The criteria for industry-standard travel risk assessments, as outlined by ISO 31030, dictates that assessments must be comprehensive, inclusive, dynamic and customized to the relevant human and cultural factors. Meeting this criteria ensures risk assessments can be integrated with security, operational and medical measures, and prepare organizations for all eventualities.

The best way to keep travelers safe is to keep them informed and prepared by providing destination intelligence prior to a trip that includes information regarding anti-LGBTQ+ laws, offer travel security training related to diverse traveler safety, and communicate clear instructions and contact details enterprise-wide, in multiple formats, for what a traveler should do in case of an emergency.

About Healix

Healix safeguards people’s health and wellbeing, in every corner of the globe. They help people in difficult situations – whether that’s being caught up in conflict, a need for medical assistance when they’re far from home, or natural disaster. Healix talks to them, supports them, and makes sure they get the help they need. Their impressive list of clients ranges from governments, broadcasters, NGOs to international corporations, major insurers and more. Healix is a BCD Marketplace partner.

Find out if Healix is right for your managed travel program.

The advice offered here is given for information purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal advice or the security rules and protocols defined by your organization.

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