*By John Tanzella, President & CEO of IGLTA
Each June brings such bright rainbows. They’re part of LGBTQ+ Pride, an annual series of events around the world that remind us of achievements worth celebrating—and work that still remains.
Pride month is a chance to show bold support for the LGBTQ+ community, something we do every day at IGLTA, the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association. Our mission is to expand LGBTQ+ tourism globally, which benefits travelers as well as destinations and tourism businesses.
Every Pride season, we find ourselves busy with great events happening in so many fantastic international cities large and small. Festivals and parades are fun ways to celebrate the support of local community leaders and allies in many destinations. At the same time, communities often use Pride as a time to make their LGBTQ+ voices heard, and to build support and strength where it’s needed.
In other words, Pride is about building connection—and so is travel. On this point, Mark Twain wrote one of the great truths about our industry: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
Over IGLTA’s 40 years, we know absolutely that visiting new places promotes understanding and equality. It opens minds, and introduces new ways of thinking and existing to both hospitable local residents, and to travelers who arrive eager to learn about local cultures.
During Pride season, LGBTQ+ travelers may use festivals as a special reason to visit. It’s an ideal way to feel comfortable being out-and-proud, meet new friends, and soak up the community spirit. Pride also is a terrific window to embrace real inclusion for all of members of the LGBTQ+ acronym—not just the very visible “G.”
Many WTM partners and members know the power of LGBTQ+ travel, and it is wonderful that ever-more countries have reached major civil-rights milestones. Starting with the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City, the global movement for LGBTQ+ equality has brought about laws and protections that were unimaginable just a few decades ago.
Marriage equality has been one of the biggest accomplishments for any nation to institute equity and inclusion. It began in the Netherlands in 2001, when it became the very first country to officially certify same-sex marriages. Belgium followed in 2003, Spain in 2005, South Africa in 2006, and by 2010, five more countries legalized marriage equality—including Argentina in 2010, becoming the first in Latin America.
Beyond marriage, internationally many countries ensure constitutional protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa. Some, including Bolivia, Ecuador, and Fiji, expand those protections for gender identity as well.
However, some nations are still behind on true equality. For example, homosexuality is still illegal in about 70 countries. Some don’t allow for joint same-sex adoption, or have any legal protections for transgender people. Others are facing backlash from conservative leaders willing to roll back civil rights. These are examples of why LGBTQ+ Pride still matters.
For those of us who consider Pride a global community event, it’s vital to remember the struggles and triumphs that got us where we are in 2022. It took many LGBTQ+ individuals to reach critical mass and attain true legal, social progress. Likewise, it takes a world of curious, active travelers to help broaden minds, and we’re glad that so many of them are devoted to boundless adventure, all year long.
The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America.