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LGBTQ Travelers Venture to Places Where Being Gay Is Illegal

A romantic island getaway in the Maldives. A safari in Kenya. A visit to the pyramids in Egypt.
Apart from being popular on bucket lists, these vacations have one thing in common: Their destinations have strict anti-L.G.B.T.Q. legislation. In the Maldives, gay sex may be punished with lashes and up to eight years in prison. In Kenya, it can bring a sentence of up to 14 years. And in Egypt, the authorities are known to throw people in jail for simply waving a rainbow flag.
Paradoxically, these trips are also all offered by travel companies founded by and catering to members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community. In interviews, the founders of four of these companies, which take a combined total of 3,000 tourists — most of them American — abroad each year, said they were providing a safe way to meet a growing demand for trips to countries that criminalize L.B.G.T.Q. people.
“I’m gay and I want to visit these places,” said Darren Burn, the founder of Out of Office, an inclusive luxury travel company. “And if I want to visit these places, then there are other gay people who do, too. So if we can enable them to do it in a fun, exciting and safe way, then that’s exactly what we’re here for.”
A world that isn’t always friendly
By some metrics, certain L.G.B.T.Q. Americans have it easier when it comes to planning their next trip. Same-sex couples tend to have more disposable income because they are less likely to have children and more likely to both be employed, according to census data. Married gay men have the most spending power, with a median household income that is more than $25,000 higher than their straight and lesbian counterparts.
Even so, being out and getting out can be at odds in a world where many places are hostile — and sometimes outright dangerous.

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