The federal government has issued a warning to same-sex couples about the risks of travelling to countries where homosexuality is not acknowledged or is illegal.
Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew cautions gays and lesbians “cannot take for granted that rights that are recognized in Canada will be recognized or accepted abroad.”
“Many countries still do not permit such marriages. Same-sex couples should know what this will mean for them when travelling internationally,” says Pettigrew.
The government cautions that immigration and visitor regulations vary greatly from one country to another. Trying to enter a country as a same-sex married couple may result in refusal by local officials, or potentially worse in countries where homosexual activity is illegal.
Foreign Affairs has updated its Consular Affairs website with information for gay and lesbian travellers. The website warns that “homosexual activity is a criminal offence in some countries. Those convicted may be sentenced to a prison term, a fine, a lashing, deportation or death.”
“Whether visiting or moving to another country, Canadians should always take the time to learn about the laws of the country for which they are destined before leaving home,” says Pettigrew.
The website offers advice for gay men and lesbians travelling or living abroad, including “Travel Reports” for specific countries. For instance, travellers to Qatar are warned that for homosexuality “convicted offenders may face lengthy jail sentences, lashing and/or deportation.” In Egypt, “public displays of affection are frowned upon. Demonstrations of homosexuality have been deemed an affront to public morals and some Egyptians have been jailed.”
Further information is also available on the Amnesty International website.