Poll: With Discrimination Rising, Canadian LGBTQ+ Travellers Wary of Leaving Home

Pride Flags

LGBTQ+ travellers feel increasingly wary of hitting the road given the political climate in some parts of the world, says a new study from

The travel booking website says that “personal safety has never been more of a focus” for travel lovers who identify as LGBTQ+. The study found that nearly four-in-five (78%) Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers report that they must consider their safety and wellbeing when picking a place to visit. That’s up substantially from last year, when 68% of Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers felt that way.

“Despite the travel industry’s growing recognition of the scope and variety of LGBTQ+ experiences, many travellers today still face enormous challenges,” officials said.

Associated Press reports the largest LGBTQ+ rights organization in the U.S. last week joined other civil rights organizations in issuing a travel advisory for Florida, warning that newly passed laws and policies may pose risks to minorities, immigrants and gay travellers.

More than half (60%) of LGBTQ+ travellers say that some destinations are completely off-limits, rising to 74% for transgender travellers who reportedly face a disproportionately higher rate of discrimination and violence around the world. Even after booking trips, Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers remain vigilant, with 28% having canceled a trip in the past year after seeing a destination not supporting those who identify as LGBTQ+. That rises to a whopping 63% for those who are transgender.

That means that personal safety “is now an increased point of discussion for LGBTQ+ people when planning travel, particularly amongst those who are transgender,” officials said.

Worldwide, there are still 64 countries that criminalize same-sex relationships – including 11 where the death penalty can be imposed.

“Destinations like these are out of the question for the majority of Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers, despite some playing host to major global events.”

Open Jaw contributor, Jim Byers, asked a relative who’s gay and loves to travel what he thought of the study.

“I’d say the political climate does for sure impact my decision of where to travel,” he said. “When a country is too divided on those issues I’d rather just go somewhere else. I don’t want to take the risk of being uncomfortable, hurt or slandered. With all the money I’m spending I want to just enjoy myself and feel safe doing so.”

Conducted amongst 11,555 LGBTQ+ travellers across 27 countries and territories around the world, the study shows that mainstream news – from issues around recent major world sporting and music events to celebrity and corporate sponsorships – has put discriminatory legislation and views in the spotlight for many, impacting considerations around vacation decisions. More than three quarters (77%) of Canadian respondents admit that controversy in the news around attitudes, discrimination and violence towards people who identify as LGBTQ+ has had a big impact on their choice of destination, with LGBTQ+ travellers from Australia (84%), Hong Kong (82%) and the U.S. (79%) indicating that they are the most cautious.

A regressive revolution

Discrimination remains a key concern across the entire travel experience, with the majority (53%) of Canadian respondents having experienced discrimination when travelling, increasing to 86% of transfeminine and 83% of transmasculine travellers. Out of all LGBTQ+ travellers globally:

  • 29% reveal that they have been subjected to stereotyping, rising to 51% for genderfluid or genderqueer travellers
  • One in five (20%) say they have been stared at, laughed at or verbally abused by other travellers. This is highest amongst pansexual travellers (26%) and lesbian travellers (23%)

For those who are transgender, travel can come with additional barriers, for example, if their gender identity, name or appearance does not match that of their passport. While 62% of Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers admit that being an LGBTQ+ person has impacted how they present themselves in terms of their clothing and make-up choices while travelling, this increases to three quarters (75%) globally for those that identify as transgender. What’s more, while 17% of Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers have had someone incorrectly assume their gender or pronouns, twice as many (38%) transgender travellers have experienced this.

While travelling can instill a sense of freedom and self expression, a significant proportion of LGBTQ+ people still feel restricted. More than a third (39%) have felt that they need to change their behavior to avoid judgment or awkward interactions with others (up from 29% in 2022), while 31% have felt they need to change their appearance to avoid the same (up from 21% in 2022). This affects the younger generation the most, with 48% of Canadian Gen Z LGBTQ+ travellers feeling they need to change their behaviour and 41% feeling the need to change their appearance.

While personal safety concerns have a key impact on destination choices for LGBTQ+ communities at large (53%), positive motivators play a very strong role, with beautiful natural scenery (55%), tasty local cuisine (53%) and great beaches (46%) rounding out the top elements that have the greatest impact on destination choices.

The majority of Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers (61%) are more likely to seek out attractions and activities that are tailored to people identifying as LGBTQ+.

Positive Experiences Remain

Positive travel experiences are proving far more common, as well, officials stated, which is no doubt increasing the confidence of LGBTQ+ communities. Eighty per cent of Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers say they have experienced some form of positive interaction, and specifically when it comes to those interactions with places to stay:

  • 53% have had friendly and informative correspondence with the accommodation ahead of arrival (up significantly from 23% in 2022)
  • 53% say they have had great first impressions on arrival such as welcome drinks and friendly staff (up from 34% in 2022)

Ottawa was named one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly destinations in the world, given its culturally vibrant nature and history of LGBTQ+ progression. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver also have celebrated LGBTQ+ rights and are very supportive of Pride events, as are some U.S. destinations, including San Francisco and New York City.

Active support from the travel industry

PrideThe travel industry is clearly playing a part in shifting attitudes and perceptions. 76% of Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers feel more comfortable travelling due to the increased inclusivity of the travel industry.

Still, the research shows there’s much more to be done to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ travellers. While guidance and information on the local area at check-in is common, being offered LGBTQ+ specific guidance is much less frequent, with only 13% having experienced this. Almost half would like to receive information on the LGBTQ+ status of the location, such as local laws, religious sensibilities and tips on where to go to be safe.

There is a clear need for travel companies to show up as allies to implement policies that are inclusive and welcoming for Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers:

  • 65% say they are more likely to book travel and experiences with brands who are LGBTQ+ owned than those who are not.
  • 67% agree that they are more likely to favour airlines and brands with inclusive policies (e.g. gender neutral uniforms), rising to 86% for transmasculine and 83% for transfeminine travellers

“While visibility, understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people has come a long way in recent years, we can’t take that progress for granted. The travel industry should strive to be a beacon of inclusion, helping foster an environment where everyone can flourish and thrive, whether exploring closer to home or travelling to the other side of the world,” said Arjan Dijk, CMO and Senior Vice President at’s Travel Proud program provides free training for accommodations to help them gain a better understanding of the specific challenges faced by LGBTQ+ travellers, as well as what can be done to make every guest feel more welcome, regardless of where they come from, who they love or how they identify.

The training is now available in English, Italian, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and German. There are now more than 24,000 certified properties globally on, with welcoming Travel Proud stays available in 118 countries and territories and more than 7,030 cities.

Jim Byers

Jim Byers is a freelance travel writer based in Toronto. He was formerly travel editor at the Toronto Star and now writes for a variety of publications in Canada and around the world. He's also a regular guest on CBC, CTV News, Global News and other television and radio networks.

You may also like
Canada Jetlines' $13.5M Deal with Jetstream for 50% Stake
Jetlines intends to raise CAD $13,500,001 through a private placement with Jetstream Aviation Inc. The proceeds will be used for "aircraft ...
Sheralyn Berry Named GM of Americas, Hurtigruten Expeditions (HX)
Hurtigruten Expeditions has welcomed Sheralyn Berry as the new General Manager (GM) of the Americas. Berry joins in time for the ...
U.S. Gov’t Heading to Shutdown Midnight Saturday; Here’s What Travel Needs to Know
Barring an 11th hour deal, it appears that a U.S. government shutdown may well occur at midnight on Saturday, 30SEP, resulting ...
L.A. Tourism & Convention Board Launches Ad Campaign to Accelerate Tourism Recovery
Los Angeles Tourism is forecasting 49.30 million visitors by year's end, but that still trails 2019's record-setting visitation by 1.43 million ...
Israel Ministry of Tourism Launches New Campaign to Inspire Travel this Winter
Israel’s Ministry of Tourism has launched a new digital advertising campaign, ‘Anywhere’, aiming to inspire Canadians to travel to the destination ...

Talk Back! Post a comment: