A shock new survey has found that LGBT+ travellers are being forced back into the closet abroad.
New research from Virgin Holidays and Attitude’s Holiday Survey has revealed the uncomfortable disparity between the experiences of LGBT+ and straight couples on holiday.
While around 84% of straight couples are at ease showing affection to a partner abroad, and the majority are actually more affectionate on holiday than when at home.
LGBT+ travellers report feeling far less at ease, with only just one in twenty (5%) saying they feel comfortable showing open affection with a loved one whilst abroad.
The research, conducted amongst both LGBT+ and straight UK adults, revealed that one in three LGBT+ travellers experienced discrimination, including judgement and ridicule.
The discrimination includes being stared at (58%) or laughed at (35%) and a third (29%) have been verbally abused.
One in ten LGBT+ travellers revealed that they had been threatened with physical violence while on holiday, and two thirds of LGBT+ travellers feel uncomfortable with everyday activities such as applying sunscreen to their partner’s back.
LGBT+ couples said the discrimination was evident in tourists from around the world (40%) with one in four saying they had been discriminated by other British holidaymakers.
However, a third of LGBT+ travelers revealed they feared judgement from hotel staff and more than half have had their relationship status questioned, including being offered single hotel rooms and having their beds separated by housekeeping staff.
This has led to eight out of ten couples refusing to hold hands on holidays, with more than half refusing to hold hands in the safety of their hotel.
Commenting on the findings, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said: “At Virgin Holidays, we believe everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to be whoever they are. That’s why is it shocking that in today’s society some of us can’t even enjoy a simple holiday without fear of discrimination.
Joe Thompson, Managing Director at Virgin Holidays, said: “Holidays should be relaxing, fun and full of adventure. Unfortunately for LGBT+ people this still isn’t the case.
“We want everyone to take on the world and that’s why we’re working with one of the biggest issues driven publishers to continue to raise awareness of the issues faced by LGBT+ travelers on holiday, and to work with our partners abroad, to give customers the best experience possible.”
“It’s fantastic that Virgin Holidays are raising awareness around this important issue.”
Attitude Editor-in-Chief Matt Cain added: “The statistics to come out of this survey are truly shocking but confirm what we at Attitude have been aware of for a long time. We’re glad that a popular holiday company like Virgin Holidays is now drawing attention to the enduring, uncomfortable truth about how gay people are treated when travelling to so many destinations around the world.
“It’s important that we keep the conversation going to tackle overt and underlying discrimination so that gay men no longer expect to encounter homophobia on holiday – and don’t have to put up with it.”
Virgin Holidays has also partnered with issues driven publisher ATTN on the back of the survey to raise awareness of the frightening statistics in a new video, which asks the question: ‘What if we treated straight couples the way gay couples are treated on holiday?’
Watch the video below: