Being queer is no easy feat in most parts of the world. With hate crimes and discrimination still prevalent despite numerous attempts at progress, moves toward acceptance in the region are still painstakingly slow.
From Egypt to Morocco, state-sponsored repression, and negative social perceptions continue to exist, making the lives of queer Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa particularly dismal.
But despite this, empowering movements have been taking form. In many Arab capitals, social stigmas are on the decline—making travel to the region for (Arab and not) a little less frightening.
With summer ahead, these are the region’s most queer-friendly hotels.
Phoenicia Hotel – BeirutWhilst homosexuality is still a crime, Lebanon still stands as the Arab world’s potentially most queer-friendly nation. Its capital, Beirut, is home to one of the largest underground scenes in the Middle East, making it a go-to destination for LGBTQI travellers looking to explore the region. And when it comes to hotels to stay at, the Phoenicia Hotel is the perfect place to go.
The Nile Ritz-Carlton – CairoLGBTQI communities face hefty prosecution in Cairo, particularly in its more traditional neighbourhoods. So when it comes to travel, it’s best to opt for one of the city’s most luxurious corners. Whilst not an openly queer-friendly hangout, you’ll be less at risk at the Ritz-Carlton.
Intercontinental – AmmanUnlike many of its neighbouring nations, homosexuality is not a crime in Jordan. That doesn’t make public displays of affection between same-sex couples un-punishable though. Just remember that Mashrou Leila, the band known for advocating for gender-equality, is banned from performing in the nation. But Amman has grown and evolved in to a more open-minded nation over the last few years. As for hotels, the InterContinental is perhaps the best option for a risk-free stay.
Four Seasons Hotel – TunisAlongside Beirut, Tunis has garnered a reputation for its open-mindedness. Whilst many parts of the country remain conservative, the capital city has a growing openly queer community, and LGBTQI-friendly hangouts, making travelling less and less of a hassle. Most hotels across its suburbs in La Marsa, Sidi Bou Said, and Gammarth pose the least risk. But to be safe, it’s best to follow the same guidelines as Cairo and book a stay at The Four Seasons.