Is India safe for LGBTQIA+ travellers?

LGBTQIA+ travellers are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, plus queer or questioning, intersex or asexual individuals. It also includes those who identify beyond these commonly used sexualities and gender expressions. Everyone has the right to feel safe when travelling, however, there are some situations and issues that may present themselves to travellers who identify with one or more of these terms when visiting India.

LGBTQIA+ rights in India

Though homosexuality was decriminalised in India in 2009, it was again made illegal in 2013, and then decriminalised once more in 2018. Despite this decriminalisation, LGBTQIA+ rights in India are complicated, and the government is relatively silent when it comes to LGBTQIA+ issues. Although transgender people did receive legal recognition as a third gender in 2014, same-sex marriage is illegal, as is adoption, and discrimination is still rife at all levels of society.

Is India safe for LGBTQIA+ travellers?

The majority of Indian society is still conservative, and while most travellers will have a welcoming and hospitable experience, discretion is still advised for LGBTQIA+ travellers, particularly in more remote towns and villages which may be more conservative. The same advice is also given to heterosexual couples (and couples of all other sexual orientations) as public displays of affection other than hugging and holding hands are generally frowned upon. However, like in other traditional and conservative countries, there is more tolerance of queer travellers compared to queer Indians due to the importance of tourism, and LGBTQIA+ travellers are unlikely to experience any issues if PDAs are avoided.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.

LGBTQIA+ culture in India

Because of societal attitudes toward same-sex relations, queer scenes in India are generally only found in big cities like Mumbai and Delhi, but they're still quite discreet in comparison to queer scenes in other big cities across the globe. That being said, Mumbai is making its mark in the LGBTQIA+ activism space, and the city is also home to a queer film festival known called KASHISH. Bengaluru (also known as Bangalore) also has a small, but active, queer scene, and many queer-friendly bars and clubs can be found in places like Kolkata, Chennai and Goa to name a few. Most big Indian cities also host annual Pride parades.

Solo travel and room sharing

If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a traveller of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know when you're booking your trip and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. Most of our tours also have the option to pay for an individual room for travellers who do not wish to share a room.

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