LGBT Pride Month 2017

The month of June is un­of­fi­cially recog­nised as Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, and Trans­gen­der (LGBT) Pride Month. How does Africa fare in terms of LGBT rights and what is the po­ten­tial of LGBT Tourism?

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Des Langk­ilde.

LGBT Rights in Africa

With the ex­cep­tion of South Africa, LGBT rights in Africa are very lim­ited in com­par­i­son to many other parts of the world. Ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, out of the 55 states recog­nised by the United Na­tions or the African Union or both, the In­ter­na­tional Gay and Les­bian As­so­ci­a­tion stated in 2015 that ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is out­lawed in 34 African coun­tries. Hu­man Rights Watch notes that an­other two coun­tries, Benin and the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic, do not out­law ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, but have cer­tain laws which ap­ply dif­fer­ently to het­ero­sex­ual and ho­mo­sex­ual in­di­vid­u­als.

Ho­mo­sex­ual ac­tiv­ity be­tween adults has never been crim­i­nalised in Burk­ina Faso, Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic, Re­pub­lic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of the Congo, Dji­bouti, Equa­to­rial Guinea, Gabon, Mada­gas­car, Mali, Niger, and Rwanda.

In Su­dan, south­ern So­ma­lia and north­ern Nige­ria acts of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity are pun­ish­able by death, while in Uganda, Tan­za­nia, and Sierra Leone, of­fend­ers can re­ceive life im­pris­on­ment for ho­mo­sex­ual acts.

In ad­di­tion to crim­i­nal­is­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, Nige­ria has en­acted leg­is­la­tion that makes it il­le­gal for het­ero­sex­ual fam­ily mem­bers, al­lies, and friends of the LGBT to be sup­port­ive. Ac­cord­ing to Nige­rian law, a het­ero­sex­ual ally `who ad­min­is­ters, wit­nesses, abets or aids’ any form of gen­der non­con­form­ing and ho­mo­sex­ual ac­tiv­ity could re­ceive a 10-year jail sen­tence.

Of the 34 African coun­tries who pro­tect LGBT rights to some ex­tent, South Africa has the most lib­eral at­ti­tude, with a con­sti­tu­tion that guar­an­tees gay and les­bian rights and le­galises same-sex mar­riage.

Po­ten­tial of LGBT Tourism in South Africa

Dur­ing the 2017 African Travel Ind­aba, I met up with Ja­son Fid­dler – the found­ing Chair­per­son and Key Ac­counts Man­ager of the KwaZu­luNatal Gay & Les­bian Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion (KZNGALTA), founded in 2004, which makes it the old­est such as­so­ci­a­tion in Africa. I asked Ja­son for his in­sights into the po­ten­tial of LGBT com­mu­nity as a niche tourism sec­tor. “LGBT tourism is no longer the niche mar­ket that it was in the 90's and early 2000s. LGBT, or pink trav­ellers as I like to re­fer to them, have def­i­nitely gone main­stream. In 2012 the first UNWTO re­port on LGBT Tourism re­ported on fig­ures of around US$165 bil­lion per an­num as the mar­ket's global value. In 2016, OutNow, the global re­search firm on whose data the UNWTO re­lied, pre­sented at WTM Lon­don a re­vised value of US$211 bil­lion. That's a stag­ger­ing 27% in­crease in spend­ing value over 5 years! I don't know any other tourism mar­ket show­ing that kind of growth.

“Glob­ally we're see­ing LGBT com­mu­ni­ties be­com­ing more as­sertive of their rights, be­ing more open and trav­el­ling more, both do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. The sec­ond UNWTO Re­port on LGBT Tourism speaks much more in depth about this sub­ject and gives some great case stud­ies. For ex­am­ple, and this is from my ob­ser­va­tional ex­pe­ri­ence as chief mar­shal of the Dur­ban LGBTI Pride March, in 2011 when we be­gan, we had around 800 peo­ple walk­ing, of which ap­prox­i­mately 50 had come down from Gaut­eng prov­ince to at­tend. In 2016, I head counted around 1500 walk­ing, of which around 500 were from out­side Dur­ban and pre­dom­i­nantly from Gaut­eng. They'd specif­i­cally come to sup­port an im­por­tant LGBT gath­er­ing and en­joy our great win­ter weather too - so tourism grew and an LGBT rights event was the cat­a­lyst,” says Fid­dler.

LGBT Mar­ket Re­search in South Africa

In April 2012 Lunch Box Me­dia (LBM) com­mis­sioned Qual­i­ta­tive Quar­ter to con­duct a na­tion­wide sur­vey among the South African gay com­mu­nity. In the pref­ace to the LBM Con­sumer Pro­file 2012, LBM es­ti­mates the size of the LGBT com­mu­nity in South Africa to be around 4.9 mil­lion peo­ple. The re­port found that gay peo­ple have a higher per­cent­age of dis­pos­able in­come and spend more on lux­ury items. In terms of travel, the re­port found that 44% of sur­vey re­spon­dents travel more than once a year with 34% tak­ing a hol­i­day at least once a year. 10% in­di­cated travel to in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions, while 35% travel lo­cally. Of these, 25% travel out of sea­son and 9% in-sea­son.

“We've al­ways seen do­mes­tic pink travel as im­por­tant for our pro­vin­cial growth, es­pe­cially as KwaZulu-Natal is closer to the key Gaut­eng source mar­ket than say, the West­ern Cape is. We're def­i­nitely an af­ford­able des­ti­na­tion and this plays im­por­tantly into travel re­search out of the USA that says that LGBT trav­ellers are pre­dom­i­nantly seek­ing mid-range prod­uct, but stay­ing longer,” says Fid­dler.

“Key fac­tors to note about do­mes­tic pink trav­ellers are that they travel through­out the year (although there's a grow­ing num­ber of LGBT fam­i­lies with chil­dren nowa­days) and not just sea­son­ally; they tend to spend ex­tra time on a trip by at least 1-2 nights when­ever pos­si­ble; they can be quite spon­ta­neous and re­spond quickly to time-spe­cific pro­mo­tions; they have high stan­dards and are as­pi­ra­tional, so, there­fore, many will choose an af­ford­able prod­uct but ex­pect above-av­er­age ser­vices, fa­cil­i­ties, and ameni­ties – this means that lit­tle ex­tra ef­fort on the part of the ac­com­mo­da­tion provider, for in­stance, goes a very long way to build­ing the travel loy­alty this mar­ket is very ca­pa­ble of.”

Po­ten­tial of In­ter­na­tional LGBT Tourism

In his ar­ti­cle ‘ Pride Month: How is LGBT tourism do­ing these days?' Juer­gen T Stein­metz, pub­lisher of eTur­boNews sheds some en­light­en­ing in­sights to mar­ket­ing to LGBT trav­ellers. “LGBT tourism is do­ing very well right now, but re­li­able es­ti­mates of global spend by LGBT trav­el­ers are dif­fi­cult to come by. Of­ten times you hear that LGBT trav­el­ers in the United States spend about $65 bil­lion per year, but this isn't backed up by solid re­search.

“As some­one who's chron­i­cled and, in part, helped shape LGBT travel since 1998, I can see many changes. More and more ma­jor brands are tar­get­ing the LGBT travel seg­ment than ever be­fore. LGBT trav­el­ers have more op­tions. Many years ago, gay trav­el­ers would have to choose from a few spots like Mykonos, Province­town, Key West, Sit­ges or Palm Springs. These were among the few places where a gay or les­bian per­son could be with a same-sex part­ner with­out wor­ry­ing that they would at­tract un­friendly at­ten­tion, or worse, ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence. To­day, gays are far more widely wel­comed. Thank good­ness, times are chang­ing!”

In terms of LGBT rights, Stein­mentz says; “There are over 73 coun­tries where ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is crim­i­nal­ized, and many of those are in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Usu­ally in Asian coun­tries they are so­cially ho­mo­pho­bic, mean­ing that mar­riage (and rais­ing chil­dren) is the most im­por­tant as­pect of their cul­ture. For vis­i­tors, they re­ally don't care as long as the vis­i­tor (male, fe­male, gay or straight) doesn't flaunt their sex­u­al­ity. Thai­land is very gay-friendly. Tai­wan may le­gal­ize same-sex mar­riage. Even China – which is very tra­di­tional – has gay bars and a vi­brant gay com­mu­nity.”

Can LGBT tourism make a coun­try more ac­cept­ing? “As soon as gays have more rights in a coun­try – most no­tably mar­riage equal­ity – mar­keters are right there tar­get­ing the lu­cra­tive gay mar­riage and hon­ey­moon mar­ket. We saw this time and time again in Canada and the United States. That said, I be­lieve that be­ing our au­then­tic selves while abroad – es­pe­cially to coun­tries that aren't as fa­mil­iar with gay peo­ple – is the best way to open minds and build bridges,” Stein­mentz con­cludes.

Why LGBT Pride Month is Cel­e­brated in June

In an opin­ion piece posted on, Davia So­bel­man notes that; “Two his­toric (USA) mile­stones for the LGBT com­mu­nity oc­curred in June: the no­to­ri­ous Stonewall ri­ots of '69 and the iconic le­gal­iza­tion of same-sex mar­riage. Among other crit­i­cal points in LGBT his­tory, June has be­come the month to cel­e­brate pride. Whether the com­mu­nity is com­ing to­gether in heartache or tri­umph, 30 days are ded­i­cated to dis­cussing how far we have come, and how far we still need to go.”

“Aware­ness months give a com­mu­nity of peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive recog­ni­tion and speak on their im­por­tance. Pride Month does just that – it uni­fies peo­ple to study our his­tory, an­a­lyze the present, and plan for the future. In do­ing so, we get a glimpse as to what one com­mu­nity has suf­fered, con­quered, and still faces.

“With Pride Month here, we en­cour­age all those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fes­tiv­i­ties to be aware of the hard­ships this com­mu­nity has en­dured – as they are still fight­ing for in­clu­siv­ity and ac­cep­tance. Be­com­ing fa­mil­iar with LGTB his­tory is cru­cial in iden­ti­fy­ing why there is a rea­son to cel­e­brate in the first place. Although the fight for same-sex mar­riage is now a real­ity, the inequal­ity lives on,” con­cludes So­bel­man.

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