One of our brilliant new Franchisees Aaron, has created and launched his own travel agency - The Trip Designers. One key area of his business is to support the LGBTQ+ community in travelling the world and navigating local customs. He has put together the below blog highlighting why advice and support are needed.
Why is an inclusive LGBTQ+ friendly and forward-thinking agency still relevant and necessary in 2022?
In the UK, the LGBTQ+ community has a lot of freedoms, rights, and laws designed to allow individuals to not only be proud of who they are but also protect who they are in society. Laws allow the LGBTQ+ society to have a voice and to show that they are no different to anybody else – they are there to allow everyone to be who they want to be and not be disadvantaged because of how they identify or their sexual orientation. The UK isn’t perfect however, and there is still change required, such as recognising the non-binary gender and implementing a ban on conversion therapies as a minimum. Equaldex has scored the UK 82 on their Equality Index*.
Unfortunately, around the world, the freedoms, laws and attitudes shown in the UK are still nowhere near being matched. In 69 regions, it is still illegal to be involved in a homosexual act and in 36 of those regions, homosexual acts can grant you a place in prison or even land you with the death penalty (data taken from Equaldex, Jan ’22). These figures highlight just how much the world can vary when it comes to LGBTQ+ laws and attitudes. The differences are, unfortunately, still stark!
When it comes to travel, the LGBTQ+ community still often face several uncomfortable scenarios such as the automatic allocation of single beds to a booking of two people of the same sex, despite the booking being made for a double. The often difficult task of obtaining good travel insurance for those who are transgendered. Comments or questions from the resort and/or tour staff about whether you’re sisters, brothers, mother and daughter when actually you’re just a couple trying to enjoy a holiday. The dated way it is still a requirement in the majority of countries for non-binary folk to choose a gender at immigration or on hotel bookings. These are just a tiny selection of experiences that may present themselves that can remove parts, and sometimes all, of the enjoyment of travel.
Whilst it’s clear that the tastes and styles of those travellers who consider themselves to be within the LGBTQ+ community differ vastly, there are still a couple of areas, we feel, most within the community would either seek or appreciate the knowledge of before heading abroad. These are how safe a region is and how accepting that same region is of travellers who don’t fit the heteronormative way of living. This can be whittled down further, for example, which hotels are the most accepting and celebratory of a lesbian couple on their honeymoon, which activities won’t make things feel awkward for two homosexual father’s and their children on holiday or where offers the best and most appropriate medical care to a transgendered individual.
This information isn’t as readily available to travellers as it should be and as such, sometimes, holiday bookings are made without even a basic level of knowledge around local laws and levels of acceptance, which in turn may put the traveller at a higher level of risk.
This is where The Trip Designers steps in.
We believe that no matter who you are, or where you are going, you ought to be able to travel freely. We know this is currently a big ask and there is a lot of work to do, which is why we proudly support Stonewall and are members of IGLTA which we hope will go some way to support further change in the world of travel as well as global LGBTQ+ specific laws in general.
The examples, facts and figures presented already in this piece highlight that travelling as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is still, in some respects, nowhere near as easy as travelling as a heterosexual, cis male or female which is why an inclusive LGBTQ+ friendly and forward-thinking travel agency is still both relevant and necessary.
The Trip Designers has positioned itself as an agency proud to be inclusive and open to all. We look to assist those individuals who may have a few additional questions about their destination such as, is it safe for me and my partner to travel there? what are the laws like in this country for LGBTQ+ folk? is this hotel friendly and welcoming to our community? Will I have adequate healthcare in this region?
We continue to ensure we update our knowledge of destinations around the world with regards to LGBTQ+ rights and laws and share this with our clients where appropriate. We’ll be honest with our advice, always. Of course, some LGBTQ+ travellers will still want to visit those regions that don’t have the best laws or levels of acceptance, which is fine, we’ve done the same. The difference is, by booking through us, they will be travelling with adequate knowledge around what is and what isn’t deemed okay and if willing, they can adapt their behaviour to suit so that an enjoyable holiday can still be had.
There is still a lot of judgement and stigma thrown at the LGBTQ+ community from around the world and within the UK. The joy of booking your holiday through The Trip Designers is that there is zero judgement here. No matter if you want to visit a fetish festival, go on holiday as a throuple or experience a gay-only Caribbean cruise, you’ll be welcome to enquire, talk about openly and book them through The Trip Designers.
To wrap up, this piece simply scratches the surface when it comes to the topic of travelling as an LGBTQ+ individual and some of the challenges this may present. What is clear, however, is that there is very much still a need for companies like ours to highlight their inclusivity and friendly nature where all are welcome. People need to feel safe when they travel and know they’ll be able to have a good time whilst they’re away and this starts at the beginning with the agency they book with. We very much look forward to discussing your future holiday plans.
Owner & Managing Director
The Trip Designers
*Equaldex Equality Index; this is a rating given by Equaldex to any given region. Scored out of 100 (100 being the most equal and 0 being the least) it helps to visualise the legal rights and public attitudes held within that region.