Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) members of the campus community may face threats to their safety from governments, societies, or both while traveling internationally. The following 21 countries are considered extremely dangerous for LGBTQ individuals. In all of them, being LGBTQ is illegal, enforcement of anti-LGBTQ laws is widespread, public tolerance toward LGBTQ individuals is low, and LGBTQ individuals face punishment ranging from fines to imprisonment and worse:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Brunei
  3. Egypt
  4. Ethiopia
  5. Iran
  6. Iraq
  7. Jamaica
  8. Libya
  9. Mauritania
  10. Nigeria
  11. Qatar
  12. Saudi Arabia
  13. Somalia
  14. South Sudan
  15. Sudan
  16. Syria
  17. Turkmenistan
  18. Uganda
  19. United Arab Emirates
  20. Uzbekistan
  21. Yemen

In another 64 countries, being LGBTQ may or may not be illegal, enforcement of anti-LGBTQ laws may be inconsistent, and social disapproval may vary, but the overall threat to safety is high.

In 65 other countries, laws against LGBTQ conduct either don't exist or are not enforced and social attitudes may vary, but LGBTQ individuals have few, if any, protections.

Especially in extreme-risk and high-risk countries:

  • Do not engage in conversations about sexuality or LGBTQ issues. 
  • Do not publicly display affection. 
  • Avoid using the words “gay,” “lesbian,” “sex,” or related terms in social media or emails. 
  • Do not use the Internet to meet members of the local LGBTQ community.
  • Learn local expressions and words that may indicate a derogatory view of LGBTQ individuals. 
  • Dress and act in accord with local norms. 
  • If they haven't already, transgender travelers should consider having their passports and identification changed to reflect their new gender. 
  • Remember: travelers must abide by the law of the country they're visiting. They cannot expect quick rescue from the US government or UC resources if they get in trouble. Legally, in many countries, the burden of proof rests on the accused, not the prosecutor.

For more information about conditions for LGBTQ individuals in specific countries, please contact Risk Services at or 643-9317.

Other resources:

Updated March 2018