Study Abroad Programs for LGBT+

 

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LGBTQ+ Issues

Before you go, it is important to reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of sexual identity. You should carefully consider how your identity as a LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, and other identities) person may affect your relationships with host nationals, your cultural adjustment, and your overall education abroad experience.

Familiarize yourself with the laws of your host country. Homosexuality is illegal in many countries, and carries the death penalty in some areas. Safety may require you to hide your sexual identity. Being LGBTQ+ abroad has been described by some as a second coming out process. How will you re-establish your identity overseas?

Dating

If you want to date, figure out the norms of your host culture. Women and men should generally be more cautious than in the United States, especially if you identify within the LGBTQ+ community.

Find out the laws governing sexual assault at your site. In some countries, any sexual encounter that happens after a woman has agreed to enter a man's room if considered consensual, and the concept of date rape is unknown.

Be careful at first; learn the local laws. Learn the differences between what you are accustomed to at home and the way your host culture works. Respect the culture.

Adapted from Illinois Wesleyan University's Study Abroad Spring 2014 Handbook.

 

Ask yourself these questions before you depart.

1. Sexuality and Gender:

  • What are gender relations in the main culture of this country?

  • What is considered typical male and female social behavior?

  • What is the social perception of gays and lesbians?

  • How are gays and lesbians socially defined/Are they treated very differently from heterosexuals?

  • What roles do transgender people play?

  • What is the difference between sexuality and sensuality in this country?

2. Law and Local Attitudes:

  • Are locals treated differently than tourists?

  • Are there public decency or public indecency laws?

  • What is the age of consent in this country?

  • Are there vagrancy laws?

  • Are you required to have proper documentation at all times?

  • What is the police attitude towards LGBTQ+?

  • Does the law apply the same to upper class and working class gays?

  • Does the law apply the same in urban areas and rural areas?

  • Are there divorce laws?

Adapted from Eero Jesurun's handout "Pre-Departure Advising"
NAFSA Conference 2001
Same Sex -- Different Cultures: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues Abroad
Philadelphia, PA

 

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