Despite major improvements in many countries in recent years, LGBTQ+ teachers still face a dilemma when heading overseas to teach as there are some popular teaching destinations where sexual orientation and gender identity are not discussed openly, as well as others where homosexuality is still punishable by law. Because of this you will need to be aware of the situation in any countries on your preferred list to ensure your teaching adventure abroad is a safe, enjoyable and memorable experience. Below we have outlined some of the countries that we think are the best places to teach English for LGBTQ+ teachers.
Spain has long been considered a liberal country where equal rights are afforded to all, no matter what their background. Same-sex marriage was legalized here in the early 2000s, making it one of the first countries to do so. It is also illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation and transgender people are able to legally change their name and gender. Gay festivals are common throughout the country, with Barcelona Gay Pride and the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival just two of the most popular. One place you might want to check out is the beach resort of Sitges in Catalonia as it is particularly noted as a gay-friendly town.
By legalizing homosexuality way back in the 1960s Germany became one of the leading lights on gay rights in Europe. Despite it taking until 2017 for same-sex marriage to also become legal, Germany continues to be a safe and inclusive destination for teaching English abroad. Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne are just some of the cities that hold annual Gay Pride events that attract huge crowds from all over the region. Berlin is also famous as the home of the first queer museum anywhere in the world. The Schwules Museum was opened in 1985 and is dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and culture.
Uruguay is often noted as the most liberal and progressive country in Latin America which has led to it becoming one of the most popular destinations in the region for LGBTQ+ teachers with a TESOL qualification. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was banned around twenty years ago and same-sex marriage gained legal status in 2013. Uruguayan citizens are also entitled to free gender confirmation surgery and trans residents are able to change their name without having to go through the courts. The main hub for LGBTQ+ nightlife is located in the capital city Montevideo, although homosexuality is widely accepted across the country.
Also in Latin America, Argentina is another very popular teaching destination that is particularly welcoming and safe for LGBTQ+ ESL teachers. It was the first country in the region to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010, same-sex couples are free to adopt, and lesbian couples have the same rights to IVF treatment as hetrosexual couples. The capital city Buenos Aires is home to a vibrant gay scene and its annual pride parade is one of the biggest events of its kind in the whole of South America. Even outside of the bustling capital you will find most Argentinians to be exceptionally friendly, regardless of your sexual orientation.
Thailand is a very popular TEFL destination for teachers from all different backgrounds thanks to the wide distribution of job options, year-round warm weather, amazing food, and the world-famous nightlife. Thailand is also well known for the warm welcome given to foreign visitors, including members of the LGBTQ+ community. Take a stroll down a typical street in Bangkok and you are likely to see same-sex couples walking hand-in-hand with no one taking the least bit of notice. However, it is worth noting that public shows of affection are generally frowned upon no matter what your orientation.
Like Thailand, Taiwan is a very popular ESL teaching destination that attracts thousands of TESOL qualified teachers every year, including many LGBTQ+ teachers. Same-sex marriage was recently legalized and workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation was banned back in 2007. Taipei is home to the largest gay pride event in Asia, with Taiwan Pride attracting huge interest from within the country and beyond. If you are thinking about teaching English in East Asia you should certainly take a look at Taiwan as it is quickly becoming the biggest hotspot for LGBTQ+ teachers in the region.