Foreign Office issues advice to Pride travellers

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued advice for LGBT people travelling to gay Pride events.

Holland, Denmark, and South Africa are holding major gay Pride marches later this summer, and Stockholm is hosting EuroPride.

The FCO is urging potential travellers to look at their website for safety advice.

“You can cut down on avoidable problems if you prepare well and research your destination before you leave the UK,” spokesman Steve Jewitt Fleet said.

“This year, hundreds of Brits will be travelling to global gay Pride events.

“Attitudes towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers can differ widely around the world and from those in the UK.

“If you’re planning to join the party at one of the upcoming Pride events, check out the FCO’s dedicated advice for LBGT travellers, which can be found on our website.

“You should also visit the FCO’s country-specific travel advice pages before you leave, so that you can familiarise yourself with local laws and customs of your destination.!

Among the gay-specific advice from the FCO:

a) Be aware of the possibility of crime – criminals have been known to exploit the generally open and relaxed nature of gay ‘neighbourhoods’ and beaches.

b) Check out your accommodation – many hotels now actively welcome same-sex couples, but check before you go and make reservations in advance to avoid difficulties when you arrive.

c) The legal age of consent varies from country to country. You should check individual ages of consent with the embassy of your destination country before you leave the UK.

d) Be aware that in some areas within the country you are visiting, open expressions of sexuality might be frowned upon.

e) Think about sexual health before you go – many sexual health products are not as readily available or of the same quality abroad as they are in the UK.

The Minister for Europe, Jim Murphy, has condemned the violence at Gay Pride events on his blog.

“I was very upset to hear the reports of violence at the Pride parades in Prague, Riga and Sofia in the last few weeks, and also very disappointed that pressure from various sources meant the Pride parade in Moldova scheduled for May did not take place,” he wrote.

“This was in marked contrast to the peaceful Pride held for the first time ever in Delhi on Sunday 29 June.”

Despite the 150 strong police presence at Pride in Sofia, Bulgaria, more than 60 skinheads and rightwing nationalists were arrested and a homophobic mob threw stones and petrol bombs.

“The FCO is committed to promoting equality and ending the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world and we’ve developed a programme of skills and information for embassies and diplomats to help achieve this,” wrote Mr Murphy.

In May the FCO issued an ‘LGBT Toolkit’ to its 261 embassies, high commissions and other diplomatic posts.

The kit contains information for other countries on the official British policy on gay rights and instructions on how to “provide added value to equality and non discrimination work.”

The violence and discrimination shown towards LGBT people abroad is one of the reasons why the government is under pressure over gay asylum.

There are several recent examples of the Home Office refusing asylum to gay people whose home countries criminalise or repress homosexuality.