It is crucial to recognize that attitudes towards sexuality and gender vary across cultures. LGBTQ-Q students should make themselves aware of the political situation and social attitudes regarding LGBTQ-Q issues in their desired destination(s) so that their choices in studying abroad are informed. Being knowledgeable of sexual identity issues and how this will affect interactions with host nationals will allow you to have a rewarding and safe international experience.
Safety and Legal Concerns
Sexuality is highly policed in many states, especially outside of Europe and the Americas, so those who do not conform to heterosexual standards may be subject to persecution. Generally speaking, countries in Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent tend to have harsher punishments for homosexuality.
The countries with the most progressive laws regarding homosexuality (this includes marriage, civil union, protection against hate crimes, adoption rights, etc.) are western European countries, some South American states, Canada, Japan, South Africa and Australia. In the United States, homosexuality is legal in every state, as the last of the sodomy laws was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003.
Some societies are more accepting of transsexuals than in the West, and travelers to countries like Thailand may find cultures accepting of a third gender.
For more information on the homosexuality laws of specific countries, please refer to the following websites:
International Lesbian and Gay Association website on State Homophobia
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's Information by Country
And although we cannot vouch for the accuracy of the sources included, there seems to be a helpful summary of laws and rights by region and country on Wikipedia:
NAFSA's Rainbow Special Interest Group
The Rainbow Special Interest Group is comprised of diverse members of NAFSA (the professional organization for international educators), whose goals are to counsel international and study abroad students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals in international education; and to combat homophobia and heterosexism within NAFSA. Safety guidelines, resources by country, and extensive web links to cultural, lifestyle and legal information are available through this website.