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Travel Advice for LGBTQ+ Musicians

Touring for LGBTQ+ musicians shouldn’t be a problem. However, differing attitudes and legal frameworks regarding sexual orientation and gender identity mean LGBTQ+ musicians may need to do extra preparation and research before travelling to certain countries.

Last updated: 05 December 2023

Consensual same-sex sexual acts are still criminalised in more than 70 countries and only a small minority of countries legally recognise the gender identity of trans people. Even in countries that have introduced anti-discrimination laws and protections for LGBTQ+ people, legislation may be ahead of social attitudes so it may still be necessary to do research before travelling, and be more aware of the culture of your surroundings whilst you’re there.  

What to do before you travel abroad for work

  • Check the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ILGA website. ILGA provides some of the most up to date information on where criminalisation, protection and recognition laws are enacted and highlights potentially dangerous regions and countries.
  • Check the ‘local laws and customs’ section of the travel advice page and familiarise yourself with local customs you should comply with.
  • Check online discussion forums, blogs and websites of local and regional LGBTQ+ groups. These can offer some of the best information on social attitudes and areas to avoid.
  • Be aware that personal identification documents may be an issue if you are trans and the gender recorded in your official documents is different from the gender you identify with. You can find additional advice relating to applying for or updating your passport here.
  • Make sure everyone travelling is provided with as much information as possible and have a clear plan of action if something does go wrong. This could include making sure everyone has the contact details of the British Embassy in that country and contact details of local LGBTQ+ rights organisations who may be able to offer advice.
  • Do leave details of your itinerary, contact information for the hotels you’re staying in and flight numbers with someone at home, so they know when and where you’re travelling to.

What to do when you run into problems abroad

If you do experience a problem in another country or are worried about your safety, you can ask the local British Embassy or consulate for help. Find contact details for British embassies and consulates 

The support consulate staff can provide to all British nationals is explained in ‘Support for British nationals abroad: a guide’.

Your rights with a dual citizenship

As a dual national you cannot get diplomatic help from the British government when you are in the other country where you hold citizenship.

For example, if you hold both British and French citizenship you cannot get diplomatic help from the UK when you’re in France.

Addressing your concerns with employers and engagers

Your employer or engager may ask you to tour in a country where your sexuality is illegal, or your gender identity is not recognised. Even in countries that offer protection to LGBTQ+ people attitudes may not be in line with legislation and your employer/engager should highlight this if they are aware of potential threats to LGBTQ+ employees’ safety.  

If you are worried about travelling to a country because of your sexuality or gender identity, you should discuss this directly with your employer or engager. If you’re not out at work, or you don’t feel comfortable discussing your concerns with your employer or engager, contact your Regional Office who can act on your behalf.

The MU will never disclose details about your sexuality or gender identity without your prior consent. 

If you do decline an opportunity to work in a country hostile to LGBTQ+ people, your career should not be affected. Members of the LGBTQ+ community have protected characteristics (Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Reassignment) under the Equality Act 2010 and are therefore protected from discrimination. 

Your employer or engager may be putting themselves at risk of discriminating against you if they insist you travel, or you suffer detrimental treatment for refusing to travel to countries where you are at risk of arrest or harassment because of your sexuality or gender identity.  

If you are unsure about how you’ve been treated, or you’re being treated unfairly please contact your Regional Office for advice and support. 

Touring in territories considered dangerous for LGBTQ+ people

If you do decide to tour in a country that’s considered dangerous for LGBTQ+ people, your employer or engager has a duty of care to protect you from harm. 

  • You do not have to come out to your employer or engager because you’ve been asked to tour in a country that criminalises LGBTQ+ people  
  • Your employer or engager should not force anyone to tell them about their sexuality or gender identity
  • Your employer or engager should assume they do have LGBTQ+ employees and prepare briefings appropriately 
  • Your employer or engager should provide everyone with information on the legal and cultural landscape for LGBTQ+ people in the country you’re travelling to
  • Your employer or engager should have a clear and robust strategy in place, that everyone is familiar with, to support LGBTQ+ employees and to deal with any issues if they arise 
  • Your employer or engager should not ask you to lie about your sexuality, gender identity or change your behaviour. If you do feel it’s necessary to make modifications to your appearance or behaviour, this should be your choice entirely.

Representing and advocating on behalf of LGBT+ musicians

Get involved with the MU's work on lobbying for an LGBT+ inclusive education, the end of abuses to LGBT+ people internationally, and a fair and equal representation.

Join our LGBT+ Member Network

Our network is a space where people with shared identities can connect, network and make positive change across the MU and the music industry. The network ensures that the voices of LGBT+ members are heard, and that opportunities for activism and leadership are created. 

Join our network if you identify as LGBT+.  

Join the LGBT+ Network

Representing and advocating on behalf of LGBT+ musicians

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