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LGBTQIA Students

The ASU Study Abroad Office respects the sexual and gender identity and expression of all people.  While all study abroad participants need to plan their experience in advance, as an LGBTQIA student you may wish to consider some additional issues before and during your study abroad experience.

  1. RESEARCH the LGBTQIA climate of your host country. Explore different resources such as newspapers, LGBTQIA-friendly travel guides, and e-magazines to gain a better understanding of what the social perception is of members of the LGBTQIA community.
  2. TALK with other LGBTQIA and allied people about their experiences in specific countries or regions.
  3. UNDERSTAND the context, customs, laws and attitudes in your host country.  Similar expressions or behaviors may have vastly different meanings in different places.  In some locations open expressions of your sexual orientation might be criticized.

Keep in mind that once outside the United States you are no longer protected by U.S. laws.  If same-sex acts are illegal in your host country and you are caught engaging in them, or presumed to have engaged in them, you could be arrested and imprisoned in that country.

It is important to reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of sexual identity and consider carefully how your identity as a LGBTQIA person may affect your relationships with host country nationals, your cultural adjustment, and your overall study abroad experience.

Questions you may want to consider, research, and ask about

  • Does your right to be LGBTQIA in the United States conflict with your host country’s religious or cultural values and traditions?
  • What are gender relations like in the host country? What role do transgender individuals play in the host culture?
  • Are there safety considerations you should be aware of?
  • Are there “public decency” laws? Or “public indecency” laws?
  • What is the age of consent? Does it differ for heterosexual versus same-sex couples?
  • What is the police attitude towards the local LBGTQ community?
  • Will laws and attitudes be the same for different social classes or geographic areas?
  • What resources are available in my host country for LGBTQIA individuals? 
  • Are there any LBGTQ-friendly establishments nearby? How can I find them? 

Questions to ask yourself

  • How open will I be about my sexual orientation and gender identity with my teachers, peers, friends, host family and others? 
  • How important is it to me to find other LGBTQIA students and friends while abroad? How will I make connections with other LGBTQIA students, local residents, or community organizations? 
  • What are my safety needs and perceptions, and how can they best be met? Is the program able to make special accommodations for students who request single rooms, private baths, or certain roommates? 
  • Will I need access to any medications, supplies, or services due to my transgender status? Are they available in my host country? If not, will I need any additional documentation to travel with my medication or supplies? 

Tips to keep in mind

  • If you experience difficulties, don’t be afraid to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. They are available 24/7 at every embassy who provide emergency assistance to Americans. They won’t pass judgment on you and will protect your privacy.
  • Be alert and try to avoid potentially unsafe environments. Look out for yourself and your friends, especially late at night.
  • Use discretion. As an American, you may already stand out. Outside gay neighborhoods or resorts, public displays of affection may draw even more attention.

Sexual Orientation Laws in the World - Overview Map

Resources for more information