In a recent update from Catalyst.org, many countries are providing legal protections for LGBTQIA+ employees. Eighty-one countries prohibit discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation, including: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Netherlands was the first country to allow same-sex marriage in 2001 and Ecuador is the most recent country to legalize it.  

At the same time however, at least 69 countries have national laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults. In addition, at least nine countries have national laws criminalizing forms of gender expression that target transgender and gender nonconforming people. Homosexual activity is a capital offense in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, and Somalia. Only 5% of the United Nations member states have written into their constitutions that sexual orientation-based discrimination is prohibited. Same-sex marriage is not legalized in the majority of Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. Only 13% of UN member states have legalized gay marriage and a handful recognize civil unions, including Peru, Greece, and Italy

So what do mobility programs need to consider?

For LGBTQIA+ employees who are relocating or going on an international assignment, there continue to be a wide variety of challenges, a few of which are:

  • Refusal of spousal visas if same-sex marriage is not legal in that country.
  • Access to healthcare and other benefits can be restricted for those relocating as a same-sex couple
  • LGBTQIA+ people may face a difficult workplace climate, as well as a perceived lack of career opportunities or status at work.
  • Relocation to countries where homosexuality is illegal may leave LGBTQIA+ employees at risk of arrest and harassment.

World Population Review offers the ten worst countries for LGBTQIA+ rights. Some of the more challenging locations that we find clients sending people to are Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. They also rank their top 10 list of the safest countries for LGBTQIA+ people - Sweden, Canada, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, the UK, Finland, France, Iceland, and Spain made that list!

Then this article from TPG points out the "Top 10 LGBTQ-friendly destinations in 2022". Here they are:

  1. Sydney, Australia
  2. Belgrade, Serbia
  3. Kaohsiung, Taiwan 
  4. Auckland, New Zealand
  5. Providence, Rhode Island
  6. Malta
  7. Saugatuck, Michigan
  8. Thessaloniki, Greece
  9. Toronto, Canada
  10. Quito, Ecuador

While travel has some inherent risk for all employees, LGBTQIA+ employees often face a greater degree of risk than most. This guide is designed to help LGBTQIA+ travelers navigate those layers. Stonewall's "Safe Travels: Global Mobility for LGBT Staff" is a 24-page guide with best practice tips for supporting LGBTQIA+ staff. Part of your duty of care is knowing about the risks specific locations might have for your mobile employee population. Let us know what some of your "best practices" are for maintaining the safety, health and success of your employees moving abroad.