Australia is the 17th safest country for LGBT travellers according to new research, ahead of the United States but behind Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Travel bloggers and researchers Asher and Lyric Fergusson created the LGBTQ+ Danger Index by ranking the 150 most-visited countries according to eight criteria, including the legalisation of same-sex marriage, anti-discrimination laws, adoption recognition and Gallup poll findings. 

They found Sweden is the safest country in the world for LGBT travellers, followed by Canada in second place and Norway in third. Australia came 17th and was given a B+ rating, behind Ireland at 16th, New Zealand at 12th and the United Kingdom at sixth.

The most dangerous countries in the world for LGBT travellers according to the index are Nigeria, Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Tanzania, which have all criminalised homosexuality. Other countries, such as China, Russia and Indonesia, ranked poorly due to their strict censorship laws and lack of protections for LGBT people.

Perhaps surprisingly, the United States didn’t even make the top twenty, placing 24th behind Luxembourg, Slovenia and Germany. According to Fergusson, this is because gay rights vary by state in the US and there are no constitutional or federal protections for LGBT people.

Gay and Lesbian Tourism Australia spokeswoman Louise Terry told the Star Observer while Australia “continues to be on the wish-list of many LGBTQ+ international travellers”, its reputation as an LGBT-friendly destination may have been damaged by the delay in achieving marriage equality.

“On the global stage, Australia has been late to progress in areas like same-sex marriage, with New Zealand passing laws in 2013 and Canada in 2005,” Terry said.

“Marriage equality in Australia in 2017 was such a positive turning point for the LGBTQ+ community in providing recognition of relationships, but it came such a long time after many other countries, and the way in which it was conducted generated media headlines, not all positive, that likely impacted on people’s perceptions of Australia.”

Even so, she said there are “so many reasons to visit” Australia and encouraged LGBT travellers to take advantage of Australia’s “beautiful beaches, vast, breathtaking outback landscapes, the world’s oldest living Indigenous culture, city life and country towns and some of the world’s most-loved pride events”. 

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