Discrimination is not new for the LGBTQ+ community. The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual and many other terms (such as non-binary and pansexual). A survey by leading travel booking portal Booking.com has revealed that over 60% of the community changed or cancelled their travel plans in India last year fearing ill treatment.
The survey reveals that LGBTQ+ travellers in India continue to be cautious, as a significant percentage—62% of LGBTQ+ individuals, and 63% of transgender individuals—have reported cancelling a trip within the past year due to concerns over the lack of support for LGBTQ+ individuals in their chosen destination, as per Booking.com’s LGBTQ+ travel research.
One of the major challenges faced by LGBTQ+ travellers is the pervasive discrimination they encounter throughout their journeys. According to the survey results, a significant majority of respondents (79%) reported experiencing discrimination, with even higher figures of 86% for transfeminine travellers and 83% for transmasculine travellers.
Specific instances of discrimination include 33% of respondents facing stereotyping, 29% being subjected to stares, giggles, or verbal abuse by fellow travellers, and 27% feeling threatened or unsettled by local law enforcement.
Despite travel being associated with freedom and self-expression, many LGBTQ+ individuals still feel restricted. Around 44% have felt the need to modify their behavior in order to avoid judgment or uncomfortable encounters, marking an increase from 37% in 2022. Additionally, 36% have felt compelled to change their appearance for the same reasons, up from 29% in 2022. This pressure is particularly common among young LGBTQ+ travellers who often succumb to societal expectations.
Rising safety concern
In its third year, the survey revealed that an overwhelming 91% of LGBTQ+ travellers in India feel the need to take their personal safety and well-being into account when selecting a destination. This percentage represents a significant increase from 70% in the previous year. The concern for personal safety is particularly prominent among intersex individuals (90%), genderfluid individuals (90%), transfeminine individuals (89%), and transmasculine individuals (87%) who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Surprisingly, despite the challenges faced, a remarkable 90% of LGBTQ+ respondents (compared to 72% in 2022) find that their identity actually boosts their confidence as travellers. When it comes to their holiday experiences, 89% of LGBTQ+ individuals feel confident engaging in any activities they desire, and an overwhelming majority (87%) actively seek out attractions and activities tailored to LGBTQ+ individuals.
Positive travel experiences continue to uplift LGBTQ+ communities. An overwhelming 97% of LGBTQ+ travellers have encountered delightful interactions during their stays. Additionally, 58% have enjoyed positive pre-arrival communication with accommodations, and 51% have had excellent experiences upon arrival. This represents a notable increase from 26% in the previous year, indicating a positive trend towards more inclusive and welcoming travel experiences for LGBTQ+ individuals.