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Travel for LGBT+ Musicians

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

Last updated: 05 May 2021

Sexual acts between people of the same sex 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 LGBT+ people, legislation may be ahead of social attitudes so it may still be necessary to do research before travelling and be more aware of your surroundings whilst you’re there.  

Before you visit  

  • 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 gov.uk travel advice page and familiarise yourself with local customs you should comply with.
  • Check online discussion forums, blogs and websites of local and regional LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ 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.

If you do run in to 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 here

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

Working with employers and engagers to address your concerns

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 LGBT+ people attitudes may not be in line with legislation and your employer/engager should highlight this if they are aware of potential threats to LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ people, your career should not be affected. Members of the LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ people

If you do decide to tour in a country that’s considered dangerous for LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ employees and prepare briefings appropriately 
  • Your employer or engager should provide everyone with information on the legal and cultural landscape for LGBT+ 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 LGBT+ 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 

Join the MU's Work for Equality for LGBT+ Musicians

As a member-led organisation, the MU often asks for members' opinions on a whole range of topics to ensure that our work represents your views.

Our equality networks are an important part of this process.

Be sure your voice is heard - and help make the music industry a better place for every musician.

An LGBT+ Network is open to members who identify as part of the LGBT+ community.

Join the LGBT+ Network

Join the MU's Work for Equality for LGBT+ Musicians

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