Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Foreign laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) can be very different from those in Canada. As a result, you could face certain barriers and risks when you travel outside Canada. Research and prepare for your trip in advance to help your travels go smoothly.

On this page

Before you go

Visit the Travel Advice and Advisories pages for your destination countries. The “Laws and culture” tab may contain information on the laws and social customs that could affect LGBTQ2 Canadians there. Watch for laws that:

Some countries may use laws related to “vagrancy”, “public nuisance” or “public morals” to criminalize LGBTQ2 people.

Research the laws, safety recommendations and social customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics in your destination country. Some useful resources include:

Passports

If your passport indicates “X” as a gender marker or if it indicates, "the sex of the bearer should read as X, indicating that it is unspecified," you might face entry restrictions into some countries that do not recognize your gender.

While you are away

While you are travelling outside Canada, you are subject to, and must follow, the local laws of your destination country, even if these laws infringe on your human rights.

Not all countries have the same values and legal system that we have in Canada. As a result, it is important for you to be informed about the legal framework and social customs governing sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics in your destination country.

Personal safety

You should always be conscious of your personal, and online, safety while you travel. Be conscious of your online presence and any public-facing content that may disclose information about your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. Depending on your destination, this information may affect your safety or have legal implications.

Relationships

Carefully consider whether you are comfortable visiting a destination where the laws and social customs affecting LGBTQ2 people differ from those in Canada.

In many countries, only heterosexual relationships between cisgender people are recognized as legal and accepted by society.

In some cases, same-sex relationships are not recognized, and are criminalized. Even if your relationship is legally recognized in Canada, this may not be the case abroad.

Local laws in destination countries may be enforced or applied inconsistently. For instance, countries that criminalize same-sex relations may also use the law to criminalize gender identities and gender expressions.

In some contexts, even if there are no legal concerns related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, you may face discrimination or harassment if social customs are challenging for LGBTQ2 people.

When you are planning to travel outside Canada, consider that:

Services

You may face discrimination because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.

Travelling with children

Carefully consider whether you as an LGBTQ2 person are comfortable travelling with your child or letting them travel alone to a destination where the laws and the social context differ from those in Canada.

Canadian children should carry a consent letter if they are travelling abroad alone, with only one parent or guardian, with friends or relatives or with a group. Children from LGBTQ2 families travelling alone may face unique issues, even if travelling with a consent letter.

Foreign border officials may question LGBTQ2 families travelling with children and may ask for documentation to confirm that the child is travelling with a parent. Carry certified copies of documentation that list the custodial parents, including birth certificates or adoption orders, if applicable.

Adoption and surrogacy

If you are considering becoming a parent through a surrogacy contract or adoption abroad, be aware that LGBTQ2 couples may face discrimination from national authorities responsible for child welfare.

Some countries may prevent LGBTQ2 people from adopting a child because it is against their laws, culture or beliefs. You could face discrimination from national authorities responsible for adoption.

If you need help

Contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre  for consular help while you are outside Canada.

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