Studying Abroad as an LGBT Student

Studying abroad is an enriching and very powerful experience that enables you to see new parts of the world, experience new cultures and learn about your personal beliefs and values. Making the decision to Study Abroad is never an easy one. There are many factors to consider, including cost, location, program of study and safety. This last factor plays an even larger role when a LGBT student would like to a study abroad.

In some cultures, homosexuality is not embraced or even tolerated. A homosexual person could be arrested and persecuted under the laws of that country for simply being gay. These are genuine concerns that you and your family members should have when making the decision to study abroad.

With careful planning and research it is possible for LGBT students to have very successful and rewarding study abroad experiences. This page contains valuable information about Suffolk University’s Study Abroad Programs and LGBT resources while overseas.

If you or your family members have any questions, we encourage you to contact the Office of Diversity Services or the Study Abroad Office.

Before You Go

Why study abroad?

  • To understand the people and the world from a broader perspective
  • To develop a sense of independence and self-confidence
  • To learn more about your own personal values and beliefs
  • To improve your language skills
  • To enhance your resume

What questions should a LGBT student ask when making the decision to study abroad?

  • What are the cultural attitudes towards homosexuality in my host country?
  • How open will I be about my sexuality towards my teachers, friends, host family and others?
  • What are the norms and behavioral expectations within the LGBT community?
  • What resources are available in my host country?
  • Are there any gay-friendly establishments nearby?
  • Are there any LGBT newspapers, magazines or online resources available?

Where may I study abroad?

The Suffolk University Center for International Education provides study abroad opportunities around the globe. Destinations include:

Argentina Denmark Senegal
Australia England Spain
New Zealand France Sweden
Belarus Ireland Turkey
Czech Republic Mexico and more…

Here is a country specific listing of places that may, or may not, be a good option for you:

Excellent

Good

Up and Coming

More Investigation

Use Caution 

Belgium

Argentina

Australia

Chile

Egypt

Denmark

England

Austria

China

Kenya


France

Greece

Costa Rica

Singapore


Germany

Italy

Hong Kong

Senegal


Ireland


Japan



Israel


South Korea



New Zealand


Russia



Scotland





South Africa





Spain





Sweden




Please Note: In doing the research, the majority of the information gathered was primarily specified for gays and lesbians. Also, this table is to be used as a guide. We cannot guarantee any country as being 100% accepting.

Considerations While Abroad

You are required to follow the law in your host country. Once you leave the United States you are no longer protected by U.S. laws and constitutional rights. In short, if homosexual acts are illegal in certain countries and you are caught performing them, you could be arrested and serve jail time in that country. There is nothing that the U.S. Embassy or Consulate can do.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued travelers tips specifically for the LGBT community. These tips are intended as general advice to LGBT travelers and have been adapted here to fit the needs of the U.S. American LGBT community.

  • Ask your Program Director if there are any legal issues related to LGBT issues in your study abroad country, or countries in which you will be traveling.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you feel threatened or that someone is following you, go into a shop or other public area. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
  • Get to know your destination. There are many gay travel guides on the market and the Internet. The LGBT press can also be a great resource for travel information.
  • No matter what your sexual orientation, it is important to think about your sexual health before you leave. Many sexual health products are not as readily available abroad as they are in the United States and quality and dosages can differ. Always practice safe sex.
  • More hotels are now actively welcoming same-sex couples. But it is wise to learn this before you go and make reservations in advance to avoid difficulties when checking in.
  • Bear in mind that some resorts can be quite segregated and, when you are outside distinct gay 'neighborhoods', open expressions of your sexuality might be frowned upon.
  • Avoid potentially risky situations. Be aware of your environment, stay alert and in control.
  • Be aware that criminals have been known to exploit the generally open and relaxed nature of gay 'neighborhoods' and beaches. Don't leave your belongings unattended and try not to carry large amounts of money around with you.
  • If you get into any difficulties, seek the advice of your Program Director, local police, or the nearest U.S. consulate.
  • Learn the laws of your host country that relate to LGBT issues.

Online Resources

NAFSA Lesbigay Special Interest Group

International Lesbian and Gay Association
The world legal survey featured on the ILGA website details cultural attitudes and laws towards homosexuality.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
This resource lists legislation affecting gays and lesbians around the world, including marriage and sodomy laws.

Lonely Planet Gay and Lesbian Travel Forum

Gay-Mart Enterprises Inc. Gay & Lesbian Travel & Resource Guide

Michigan State University Study Abroad Office
Michigan State's Study Abroad office offers resources addressing GLBT concerns during the study abroad decision-making process.

U.S. State Department

Suffolk University Center for International Education

Amnesty International

Print Resources

Filomena González Canalda, M. (2002, November). Rights for everyone: Media, ideology, religion and sexual orientation in the  Dominican Republic . Presentation at the Annual CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange Conference, Atlanta , GA. [Online]. Available: http://www.ciee.org/atl_paper_maria_canalda.cfm?subnav=conference.

Informal International Educational Task Force on GLBT Concerns. (1993, July 14). GLBT perspectives and study abroad orientations. The University of Minnesota . [Online]. Available: http://www.indiana.edu/%7Eoverseas/lesbigay/advise/orientations.html.

Jesurun, E. (2001, May 29). Same sex – different cultures: Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues abroad. Presentation at the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference, Philadelphia , PA.

Two handouts available online: http://www.indiana.edu/%7Eoverseas/lesbigay/advise/GLBT_Handouts.htm & http://www.indiana.edu/%7Eoverseas/lesbigay/advise/GLBTHandout2.htm.

Rubin, A.M. (1997, October 31). Some study-abroad programs start to consider needs of gay students: They need warnings about some countries, and may face difficult transitions returning from others. The Chronicle of Higher Education. [Online]. Available: http://www.colorado.edu/ealld/atj/Bridging/ABRD-faq2.html.

Scheibach, T.L., Leisure, S., Manning, S., & Dunlap, A. (2002, November). Welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students to the international or study abroad office. Presentation at the Annual CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange Conference, Atlanta , GA.

Andy Dunlap – “Coming Out and Coming Back: Re-entry Issues for Lesbian and Gay College Students who Study Abroad.” Identify development for gay and lesbian youth, issues that they may face upon returning from study abroad, suggestions about what professionals can do. [Dunlap paper Online]. Available: http://www.ciee.org/atl_paper_coming_out.cfm?subnav=conference

Shea, P. (2001). Providing resources for outbound students: Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered abroad. Presentation at the NAFSA 2001 Conference. [Handout – Online]. Available: http://www.indiana.edu/%7Eoverseas/lesbigay/nafsa_2001_presen.htm
Test on handout was taken from a handbook, Ready, Set, Go developed by the University of Guelph ( Canada ) that all outbound students receive.