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Gay and Lesbian Travel in Asia

Asia is a large and incredibly diverse continent with a mix of cultures and attitudes towards homosexuality. While in much of Asia homosexuality is tolerated there are still many laws criminalising homosexuality, even if they are not always implemented.

Attitudes are split between East and West Asia. Countries including India, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines all consider same-sex sexual activity legal but nearly all don’t recognise same-sex relationships. Towards the west of Asia attitudes couldn’t be more different – particularly if you include the Middle East whose strict anti-gay laws can deliver harsh prison sentences.

There are plenty of gay events throughout the Asian calendar and a gay nightlife can be found in most major international cities. If you head west, then follow the Cabin crews, otherwise in East Asia the Thailand Mardi Gras is hosted annually in December, while Taiwan attracts the largest pride parade audience with over 30,000 people, growing significantly every year, held in September/October. India held its first gay pride in Kolkata in 1999, in 2008 Delhi, Bangalore, and Pondicherry simultaneously coordinated pride events, they often occur annually in June. Since then the high court has removed the law making homosexual intercourse a criminal act.

If you’re looking for a very busy gay nightlife then Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong have an array of events most nights of the week. In Tokyo, Japan there are over 300 gay bars but beware, most are so small you couldn’t swing a cat. Other popular cities include Bangkok, Phuket, Tokyo, Delhi, and Bangalore.

 

China

Gay relationships in China have been recorded as far back as 206 BC with nearly all Emperors noted as having had male lovers. The term ‘homosexuality’ has many meanings including ‘male trend’, ‘allied brothers’, and ‘the passion of Longyang’ referencing a homoerotic anecdote. Homosexuality in China has been legal on the mainland since 1997 though same-sex unions or adoptions are not legal.

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Eaton, Hong Kong

Hong Kong

 
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Dorsett Wanchai

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India

India has undergone quite a cultural transformation in recent years; the country has experienced growth of its economy, increasing international presence and tourist numbers and a greater visibility of homosexuality. The country decriminalised homosexuality in 2009 and a handful of cities have established gay pride celebrations.

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The Park New Delhi

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The Park Hyderabad

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Maldives

 

THE MALDIVES 

 

The Maldives is a Muslim country under Sharia Law which penalises same-sex relationships as well as any form of gender identity/expression. Penalties include whippings, house arrest, deportation, up to 6 years in jail or death. Vigilante attacks and executions have also been reported in the past.

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PER AQUUM Huvafen Fushi

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Thailand

It has been legal to be gay in Thailand since 1956, and the culture is thriving for gay people as both locals and travellers. A Buddhist country, where sex and sexuality have no real distinction, where people are free to choose without the necessity to label themselves or be fixed to one gender.

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