Traveling to places where it is illegal to be gay

  • dmlove02

    Posts: 45

    May 30, 2009 3:46 AM GMT
    This summer I will be going to Cameroon, Africa for a month and a half or so. It is illegal to be gay there. Even though I am not, erm...flamboyant, if you will, and I know that I do not come off as a gay man when someone meets me, it still worries me a tad. I know the obvious things NOT to do, like mention being gay to anyone, hit on dudes, dance around to Madonna on repeat in my underwear, etc. I am going there on a volunteer trip to work with chimpanzees and gorillas at a sanctuary and the surrounding reserve. It will definitely be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I plan to travel back here again to do more work once I become a wildlife veterinarian. It did not really phase me at all until some of my friends kept mentioning to be careful and telling me how worried they were, and gosh darn it, they are rubbing the worrying off on me! I have heard they are recently cracking down on 'unnatural homosexual activity', and have also recently arrested numerous gay men because of rumors they were gay (coming from a source inside Cameroon). I could imagine Cameroonian jails are not the best spot to be, but I feel that as long as I keep a low profile I will be golden. Also, being a foreigner living there with a visa, I don't know how they handle that sort of thing. I am sure if it came down to it the US embassy would hopefully get involved (note: hopefully..ha!) I went to Nicaragua last year, and although being gay was not illegal there, homosexual ACTIVITY was and was enforced. In Cameroon, it is both that are heavily enforced. Anyone out there been to a place like this that has very low tolerance and laws against homosexuality, and if so, any tips to share?

    - DML
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    May 30, 2009 5:27 AM GMT
    My first question is - How many of your friends have gone out to foreign countries?

    I've found most people get REALLY worried over things that are often no biggie at all. I can't remember the last time i went to the middle east and didn't have the majority of my "american" friends (most of whom have never left the country... canada included icon_razz.gif) beg me not go for fear of my life icon_eek.gif lol i understand there's "technically" wars and stuff going on - but really it's NOT a problem. The media ALWAYS blows things way out of proportion - and i've never thought twice about going.

    So uh - to shut up and put it more concisely - i wouldn't take advice from someone who isn't exactly a seasoned traveler... if you are going as part of a program and with a Visa - remember that you are an American Citizen and Big Problems emerge if a foreign country does something to a citizen of "the west" - i doubt the government would bug you... Of course - don't go galavanting around. just lie low and fight the sex urges for as long as you can. You should be fine icon_smile.gif



    Say hi to the gorillas for me!!


    Horribly jealous,

    -AM
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    May 30, 2009 5:30 AM GMT
    Dont peak your hair with so much product and you should do fine... icon_rolleyes.gif
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    May 30, 2009 5:34 AM GMT
    Leave the gay porn at home?

    http://typo3.lsvd.de/fileadmin/pics/Dokumente/Homosexualitaet/World_legal_wrap_up_survey._November2006.pdf

    || Countries which prohibit relations between persons of the same sex, both male and female;
    || Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Cameroon, Djibouti, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, São Tomé and Principe, Saudi-Arabia, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and some parts of Nigeria and Zanzibar which belongs to Tanzania

    At least it's not on this list:

    || Countries where sexual relations between persons of the same sex may be subject to death penalty;
    || Iran, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and some parts of Nigeria and Somalia, and the Chechen Republic in Russia
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    May 30, 2009 9:56 AM GMT
    Homosexuality is illegal is most country of the world. Even in a so call modern and westernize country like Singapore (6 men get a nominal fine for commiting sodomy in a gay sauna a couple of years ago). There law against it, with punishment like imprisonment and getting your name humiliated in the new paper. In Malaysia you can go to prison for almost 20 years, and with six stroke of flogging (sodomy) if proven guilty.

    The only saving grace is , it was rarely enforce. (eventhough I have heard one or two cases in the last 20years ). It very hard to prove , and to many people are doing it. Thats why I wont dare to put my picture here and revealing to much detail about myself.

    Frankly, I feel a breath of freedom as soon as I cross the border into Thailand.

    Count yourself lucky , that you are a citizen to a gay friendly country (before the Prop 8 , that is).
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    May 30, 2009 9:59 AM GMT
    I would go with the advice that has already been said: taking advice from seasoned travelers, if they are gay seasoned travelers the better. On the other hand, a gay Canadian acquittance of mine who is married (arguably a big giveaway as far as I know) asked for advice on this in his embassy before travelling to Nepal via India. You might have luck asking directly for that kind of info (with Hillary as Sec. of State and all that new air flowing into the system).
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    May 30, 2009 10:09 AM GMT
    I live in a place (United Arab Emirates) where it is illegal to be gay - i've lived here 8 years and have travelled extensively throughout the middle east, north and east africa, blah blah blah. I cannot speak for life in Cameroon, but i can say that as far as living as a gay here is concerned don't worry bud. If you are not flamboyant, and you're not out and about hitting on every hot boy you see you will be perfectly fine. And this also does not mean that gay relationships are out of the question - be discrete, be careful, know who you are seeing/going out with. Caution is a good thing in any unfamiliar environment, take your time to suss out the local scene - i would guarentee you there is a local gay scene - think with your head not your penis and you'll get on just fine. Don't look to your embassy to bail you out - if you break local laws, inspite of the fact that they are not compatible with US laws - you are almost always on your own. You can expect a comforting visit from an embassy official to ensure you are being fed and watered but don't look to them to get you out if you are found to on the wrong side of Cameroonian law. But again, don't get spooked - oh, maybe bad choice of words, icon_smile.gif - be discrete, careful, use your head and you'll be fine.

    Good luck and have fun!
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    May 30, 2009 11:40 AM GMT
    If it is what you want, you shouldn't miss the opportunity.

    That said, here's my issue with this topic: when we hide it, tone it down, deny it, we're only adding weight to the argument, "see, it is a choice and those people choose to live this bad gay lifestyle."

    Of course imprisonment, torture, and death are very real concerns, so I personally wouldn't go to such places by choice, but I understand your desire so do be careful and good luck.
  • dmlove02

    Posts: 45

    May 30, 2009 3:43 PM GMT
    Thanks guys - I will revert back to my nonchalant state of mind icon_biggrin.gif I figured after staying in Nicaragua for a month or so, it would probably be the same kind of deal.

    Ohhhh the ignorance of the world. icon_rolleyes.gif
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    May 30, 2009 3:56 PM GMT
    Cobalt said
    I've found most people get REALLY worried over things that are often no biggie at all.

    I will second that. For nearly every country I've traveled to I have been warned about the dangers by well meaning friends and family. But never once have I ever felt threatened or in danger. I wouldn't be concerned.
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    May 30, 2009 4:03 PM GMT
    zakariahzol saidHomosexuality is illegal is most country of the world.

    To say it's illegal in "most countries" is not really accurate. It's mostly illegal just in African and Middle Eastern nations, with some other majority Muslim nations like Indonesia and Malaysia included also. Here's the breakdown:






         No information


    Homosexuality legal      Same-sex marriage1      Other type of partnership (or unregistered cohabitation)2      Foreign same-sex marriages recognized      No recognition of same-sex couples



    Homosexuality illegal      Minimal penalty      Large penalty      Life in prison      Death penalty



  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 30, 2009 4:44 PM GMT
    If being gay is illegal, or merely unpopular and subject to harassment, why go there at all? If it's mandated by employment or some other obligation, then keep a low profile, so you don't become a victim. Otherwise, I wouldn't give them the benefit of my money by going there.
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    May 30, 2009 8:18 PM GMT
    Red_Vespa saidIf being gay is illegal, or merely unpopular and subject to harassment, why go there at all? If it's mandated by employment or some other obligation, then keep a low profile, so you don't become a victim. Otherwise, I wouldn't give them the benefit of my money by going there.

    There are a lot of historically significant and beautiful places, with very friendly people, great food, and interesting culture, that just happen to have bass akwards governments. I don't think that's a good reason to stay away.
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    May 30, 2009 8:24 PM GMT
    hmmm it is not illegal to be gay anywhere. the act of sodomy if proven is... Its just that cultural hogwash interfering with a personal way of life make it seems to be illegal. Man go on your vacation and have fun.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    May 30, 2009 10:44 PM GMT
    I wouldn't travel somewhere it's illegal to be gay.
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    May 31, 2009 1:13 AM GMT
    Tim,

    "I wouldn't travel somewhere it's illegal to be gay"

    If I gonna follow this standard , that mean I ended not travelling at all. Living in a country and surrounded by a bunch of other country that banned homosexuality, I have not much choice but to bend the rule and broke the law. Why should I denied myself , the joy and the fun of travelling, having sex with handsome exotic men , just because this unfair law is impose against me. I am a gay men, and I am determined to live my life as a gay men. That including travelling to the country that consider me a criminal for being who I am. I gonna fall in love, have sex, do what I want to do with the citizen of this country and I dont give a danm what the law say. As long as I dont caught I dont give a shit.

    "



    "
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    May 31, 2009 1:15 AM GMT
    zakariahzol saidTim,

    "I wouldn't travel somewhere it's illegal to be gay"

    If I gonna follow this standard , that mean I ended not travelling at all. Living in a country and surrounded by a bunch of other country that banned homosexuality, I have not much choice but to bend the rule and broke the law. Why should I denied myself , the joy and the fun of travelling, having sex with handsome exotic men , just because this unfair law is impose against me. I am a gay men, and I am determined to live my life as a gay men. That including travelling to the country that consider me a criminal for being who I am. I gonna fall in love, have sex, do what I want to do with the citizen of this country and I dont give a danm what the law say. As long as I dont caught I dont give a shit.

    "



    "


    I didn't say anyone else shouldn't. It's my choice.
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    May 31, 2009 1:21 AM GMT
    tereseus1 saidhmmm it is not illegal to be gay anywhere. the act of sodomy if proven is... Its just that cultural hogwash interfering with a personal way of life make it seems to be illegal. Man go on your vacation and have fun.

    It's illegal to be gay in Iran and Saudi Arabia, just off the top of my head.
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    May 31, 2009 1:40 AM GMT
    As recently as 2003 sodomy was against the Law in Texas in other states. Two guys were actually arrested and the case went to the US. Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). I know I have, and I am sure many others, have traveled to Texas (and other states) before this ruling.
  • dantoujours

    Posts: 378

    May 31, 2009 1:54 AM GMT
    I went to Sénégal and the Gambia for 3 weeks in late November and really enjoyed it. Homosexuality is illegal in both countries and there have been recent crackdowns on gay men but that wasn't an issue for me. I was there to learn about a new culture and experience something exotic, not to troll for sex. There is no reason to avoid travel to a country where homosexuality is illegal. They tend to be fascinating places.

    Your sexual or personal life is considered private in Africa, and that is particularly true in the former French colonies like Sénégal and Cameroon where peoples' boundaries and the zone of privacy are bigger than in English speaking countries. Some may ask if you are married or have a girlfriend but if you say no it will be dropped. Homosexuality is just not going to come up. It's completely and totally outside their frame of reference. It's also important to remember that the relationship between men and women is much more formal than in the west, so ask questions and follow the crowd when you deal with women.

    As a westerner you will be treated differently. Most will think of you as a walking ATM, so get ready to say "No"... often and firmly. Strangers will do you favours or strike up spontaneous conversations which will seem nice... until they hit you up for money. It can be very manipulative but just keep in mind that they need the money much, much more than we do and it is done out of desperation. But on the other hand the authorities will probably let you get away with more than the locals because you are an "ignorant" westerner and they don't want to turn anything into an international incident. But I wouldn't push it.

    I would love to go to Cameroon. I think it will be fascinating journey.

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    May 31, 2009 1:59 AM GMT
    dantoujours said

    As a westerner you will be treated differently. Most will think of you as a walking ATM, so get ready to say "No"... often and firmly. People will do you favours which will seem nice... until they hit you up for money for doing them. It can be very manipulative but just keep in mind that they need the money much much more than we do and it is done out of desperation. But on the other hand the authorities will probably let you get away with more than the locals because you are an "ignorant" westerner and they don't want to turn anything into an international incident. But I wouldn't push it.



    QFE.very important points those.
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    May 31, 2009 2:01 AM GMT
    phemt saidAs recently as 2003 sodomy was against the Law in Texas in other states. Two guys were actually arrested and the case went to the US. Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). I know I have, and I am sure many others, have traveled to Texas (and other states) before this ruling.


    Here are 2 gay teenagers being executed in Iran not long ago. So your point about going to Texas versus those countries where homosexuality is illegal is what, exactly?

    298265577_8e6bc9e117.jpg?v=0
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    May 31, 2009 2:06 AM GMT
    I cancelled a trip to Moscow after their Mayor cracked down on the gay pride parade, and it became clear just how anti-gay Russians are. I figured I didn't want my tourist dollars supporting such an anti-gay place - instead I went to Amsterdam and I am sure had a much better time there icon_wink.gif

    Might be something to keep in mind -- what are your tourist dollars supporting?
  • dantoujours

    Posts: 378

    May 31, 2009 2:06 AM GMT
    What happened in Iran is awful, but that was to Iranians, not to all the foreign tourists who visit Iran every year. Tourists who travel to third world countries stay in a bubble. That can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. The advantage is that you get a pass on things the locals don't because you are a tourist and tourist commits lots of faux pas. The disadvantages are that you will never truly understand what is like to be a native in the country you are visiting.

    Secondly, would I want my tourist dollars to go to Amsterdam, which people are wealthy and already in the top 1% of world income, or in a developing country where people are poor and trying to get ahead? I personally would like to see poor people who are trying to make a living get ahead.

    It's not all about my sexuality. Besides, those people may be closeted gays for all I know.
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    May 31, 2009 2:10 AM GMT
    Red_Vespa said
    phemt saidAs recently as 2003 sodomy was against the Law in Texas in other states. Two guys were actually arrested and the case went to the US. Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). I know I have, and I am sure many others, have traveled to Texas (and other states) before this ruling.


    Here are 2 gay teenagers being executed in Iran not long ago. So your point about going to Texas versus those countries where homosexuality is illegal is what, exactly?

    298265577_8e6bc9e117.jpg?v=0


    Never claimed that Texas was as bad as Iran.
    My point was that we all might have traveled to places where it is illegal to be gay without any problems -- of course some places are worst than others