The Canadian government has issued new travel advice warning gay couples about the risk of homophobia in The Bahamas.
Canada’s official travel and tourism guidance was updated on December 20 to reflect the risks posed to LGBT+ tourists in the popular American holiday spot.
Homosexuality has been legal in the country since 1991, but the country provides little legal protections for LGBT+ people and homophobic attitudes persist in some parts of the country.
Canada’s travel advise cautions: “Bahamian law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not widely socially accepted.
“LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to The Bahamas.”
LGBT rights in The Bahamas
LGBT+ activists in The Bahamas agreed with the advice, despite the country’s popularity with tourists.
LGBT+ Bahamian campaigner Erin Greene told the Bahamas Tribune: “I think it is a sound, a reasonable advisory to LGBTQ Canadians.
“As an LGBT Bahamian that regularly if not frequently experiences violence as a human rights advocate that concerns myself about violence towards and within the LGBT community locally, I think that it’s a sound and reasonable move for us for the sake of tourism not to pretend that we don’t experience violence towards the community locally and that by extension LGBTQ visitors might experience that violence.”
Alexus D’Marco told the newspaper: “We should acknowledge that LGBT people do exist in The Bahamas that they have been stigmatised and discriminated against.”
D’Marco said that despite attacks against LGBT+ people in the region, “there is no trust when it comes to the police.”
The campaigner added: “That’s another reason why they don’t trust the police because when they go to the police station, they are in a same-sex relationship and the police says to them ‘well if you weren’t like this this wouldn’t have happened to you, sit over there,’ and they make them sit there for hours and no reports are filed nothing like that so there is no trust.”
UK government: Gay couples should avoid public displays of affection in The Bahamas
The UK government’s guidance for tourists goes further, warning: “LGBT travellers should be mindful of local attitudes and be aware that public displays of affection may attract unwanted and negative attention. Public displays of affection (such as hand-holding or kissing) between opposite or same-sex couples are uncommon.”
Polling in 2015 found 74.5 percent opposition to same-sex unions.
In 2017, an American tourist was violently attacked at a festival in The Bahamas.
Adrian Brown, who is in the US Navy, had homophobic slurs hurled at him by the attackers before they beat him with bottles and rocks.
A Pride event in 2014 was cut short following death threats.