LGBT in Global Context Overview
In this section:
Sexuality and gender have different impacts in each culture’s laws, attitudes, and organizations. More secular and “modernized” societies often have more favorable treatment of LGBT individuals than societies which value tradition and religious piety. However, accurate generalizations are difficult to make; even within the US, attitudes towards LGBT individuals vary from state to state. It is important to obtain correct information about the specific region that you are interested in.
Cultural differences in LGBT issues have wide-ranging effects. Other cultures may have different ways of expressing affection—for example, in India, it is common for same-sex friends to hold hands without any assumption of a romantic connection—or of categorizing gender and sexuality—for example, in parts of Latin America, a man is not considered gay if he engages in same-sex intercourse as the insertive partner. Thus, American English terms and conceptualizations of LGBT issues may not directly translate.
The visibility of LGBT individuals and organizations varies by culture. Some cultures have an underground LGBT scene where LGBT individuals are tolerated as long as they remain mainly closeted, whereas other cultures may have a more open and organized community of LGBT individuals. In addition, some cultures may provide legal protection for LGBT individuals and recognize their partnerships, while other cultures may criminalize same-sex intercourse. Finally, there may be major differences within the LGBT community in a specific culture; for example, in parts of southeastern Asia it is considered culturally acceptable for a man to have sex with a feminine transgendered man, while there are no such provisions for women having sex with transgendered women.
- Information about specific countries can be found on NAFSA’s Rainbow Special Interest Group website.
- New York University offers a LGBT study abroad guide with specific information on 9 different destinations abroad. Wikipedia offers a worldwide guide to LGBT rights by country.
- The International Lesbian and Gay Association provides information on LGBT legislation worldwide.
- The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission also provides country-specific information on human rights violations against LGBT individuals. Also, try searching Google for LGBT expat communities and local LGBT organizations in the region you are interested in.
- The Lonely Planet guidebooks and travel forums can also provide country-specific information.
- The University of Michigan Education Abroad Office and the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (OIP and GIEU) can connect you with other students who have traveled to your region of interest and provide country-specific resources.