Safety for LGBTQ+ business travelers: Information for all

Laws, attitudes and cultural norms can affect the safety and security of business travelers who are members of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer) community. Use planning, education and the support of your company and travel program to promote safety for LGBTQ+ travelers.

The tips and insights provided here are for consideration only. Please always use caution, common sense and your company’s duty of care and travel policy guidance as you work to help mitigate travel security risks for your LGBTQ+ travelers. Make sure travelers are aware of the specific safety guidelines and protocols within your company’s risk incidence and contingency plans.

  1. Do the research: Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is illegal in certain countries and anti-discrimination laws don’t always provide adequate protection. Support travelers in researching country-specific legal status and levels of social tolerance at the destination. Online forums, blogs and LGBTQ+ information sites, like https://www.iglta.org, may prove valuable sources of information.
  2. Understand the local law: Remind travelers they are subject to the laws of the destination country. Taking appropriate precautions can mean the difference between safe experiences and risk incidents.
  3. Passport gender markers: Travelers should consult local regulations regarding passport gender markers, including the X gender marker which is now permitted by some countries. Bear in mind, destination countries may not have the same attitudes towards or recognize those gender markers.
  4. Safety and awareness protocols: Travelers should take the same safety precautions as they would at home, i.e., keep a low profile; don’t flash valuables; take care in joining conversations about politics/other ideology, religion, or sexual orientation, for example; and never leave food and drink unattended. While connecting with the local LGBTQ+ community can be an important part of travel, travelers should be wary of dating sites and other social media apps that may also be used for entrapment by local authorities. Travelers should consider avoiding activities that could attract unnecessary attention. Make sure your travelers can access safety information pre-departure.
  5. De-escalate potentially negative encounters: If confronted with derogatory or threatening behavior, travelers should do their best not to engage. Instead, they should move to a safe place, if possible.
  6. Know where to go for help: Provide your travelers with access to around-the-clock support to travel, human resources or security teams via channels such as phone, email, SMS, click-to-call or chat. Depending on location, the local authorities may not be the best resource for assistance and protection. Travelers should keep the address and phone numbers of their travel team and their home country’s nearest embassy in a safe place.
  7. Back-up plan: In worst-case scenarios, be prepared with a contingency plan to remove your LGBTQ+ travelers to safety as swiftly as possible.

The above tips are for information only and are not intended to replace legal advice or the safety rules and guidelines outlined by your organization.

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