Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad

Most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2) Canadians experience no problems at all when they travel abroad. However, foreign laws and customs can be very different from those of Canada, which can result in increased risks. Researching and preparing for your trip in advance will help your travels go smoothly.

Before you go

Passport policies

If you have changed your name legally, or due to a change in relationship status, you have to apply for a new passport. For more information on updating your passport with the “X” designation, see Canadian passports.

Local laws

While you are travelling outside Canada, you are subject to, and must follow, local laws, even if they are different from Canadian laws. Not all countries have the same values and legal system as Canada, so it is important to research laws relating to LGBTQ2 people in your destination country. For more information, see the State Sponsored Homophobia Report  and related links under Other resources.

Relationships

When you are choosing a travel destination, you should consider that same-sex marriages and relationships are not legal in many countries. You should carefully consider whether you are comfortable visiting a country where LGBTQ2 rights are not recognized, or where LGBTQ2 people are not socially accepted, as you may face discriminatory laws or practices that may be applied arbitrarily or inconsistently.

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

Issues related to gender identity or expression

The Government of Canada cannot guarantee your entry or transit through another country, regardless of whether your passport or other Canadian travel document includes the “X” designation. When you travel abroad, you should be aware of all of the entry requirements of the countries you visit or transit through, as not all countries have the same values and legal systems as Canada.

You should be aware that you may face discrimination because of your gender identity or expression, and you may not have access to services in your preferred gender while you are travelling abroad.

Age of consent

You should be aware that the age of consent for heterosexual relations and homosexual relations can vary even in the same country. These laws may be applied arbitrarily or inconsistently. Even if there are no age of consent laws specific to LGBTQ2 people, you may be targeted because of your identity.

Family issues

LGBTQ2 people who would like to adopt or become parents through surrogacy while abroad should be aware that:

LGBTQ2 youth

If you are a Canadian LGBTQ2 youth who lives abroad and is concerned about your safety and well-being, including issues related to forced marriage, please see What to do if you need help. There is also a list of resources available to LGBTQ2 youth under Other resources.

Social and personal safety

While some countries have specific laws in place to protect LGBTQ2 people, it is important to remember that you should always be conscious of your personal and online safety while you travel.

Health

What to do if you need help

The nearest Canadian government office abroad or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre may be able to help you if you run into trouble while you are abroad, especially if you feel uncomfortable about approaching the local police.

Other resources

The International Lesbian and Gay Association publishes a world map summarizing sexual orientation laws by country.

Human Dignity Trust has lists and fact sheets on countries that criminalize homosexuality or maintain discriminatory age of consent laws.

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association provides travel advice for gay and lesbian people.

The Trevor Project is a US organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. You can access the Trevor Support Center and their social networking site, TrevorSpace, which connects LGBTQ2 youth and their allies around the world.

The Global Database on HIV-Specific Travel & Residence Restrictions lists countries that restrict the entry, residence and stay of HIV-positive foreigners. 

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