The State Department Has Issued a Worldwide Travel Advisory—Here’s What to Know

The alert advises that travelers remain vigilant during Pride celebrations, which take place throughout the world during the summer months.

Berlin's Christopher Street Day Pride celebration with numerous people in the foreground and a double-decker bus and the Victory Column monument in the background

Berlin’s Christopher Street Day, a Pride celebration, is on July 27 this year.


Ahead of Pride Month, the U.S. State Department took the extraordinary step of issuing a Worldwide Caution alert tailored to LGBTQ+ travelers and their allies. The bulletin, deployed on May 17, urged citizens to “stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations and venues frequented by LGBTQI+ persons.” It did not mention specific hazards or advise against travel.

While the State Department typically grades countries with safety ratings—ranging from Level 1 (“Exercise Normal Precautions”) to Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”)—this blanket global advisory stands on its own, John Tanzella, president and CEO of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), tells Afar.

“The State Department’s recent worldwide travel advisory for LGBTQ+ travelers is a unique step, reflecting the increased focus on LGBTQ+ safety around the world,” Tanzella notes. The organization he leads, IGLTA, provides free travel resources while promoting equality and safety for the LGBTQ+ community in more than 80 countries worldwide.

It’s not a coincidence the warning was issued on the same day as International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia, and Transphobia. This occasion marks the day the World Health Organization delisted “homosexuality” as a medical diagnosis in 1990.

John Clifford, founder of International Travel Management, a San Diego–based travel agency specializing in trips for LGBTQ+ clients, says the memo is a stark reminder of LGBTQ+ rights in the United States and worldwide.

“We must be continually vigilant of violence around our gatherings and celebrations,” says Clifford. The May 17 State Department advisory came exactly one week after the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a joint public service announcement warning of potential foreign terrorist acts against LGBTQ+ events.

In its advisory, the State Department suggests travelers register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which sends travelers alerts when a hazardous situation arises in their destination and helps travelers make contact with the local U.S. embassy in an emergency. The State Department also maintains a web page with information tailored to LGBTQ+ travelers, including important pointers for staying safe and the locations of U.S. embassies.

Tanzella recommends “consulting with LGBTQ+ travel experts and local Pride organizers to understand the specific safety considerations at their chosen destination.” For instance, Madrid Pride, along with Pride events in most major cities, offers a travel hub with up-to-date information for visitors such as Pride parade route information, meetup points, and potential hazards.

Meanwhile, Clifford says to check maps that feature data visualizations of LGBTQ+ safety broken down by country from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World), a global advocacy group campaigning for queer human rights. “These maps will help travelers see how certain laws impact queer folks around the world,” Clifford notes.

A 2023 index ranked the safest countries for LGBTQ+ travelers. Metrics included civil rights, protections, and anti-discriminatory laws. At the top of the list are Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, Malta, Norway, Portugal, and Spain. The United States ranked 25th overall.

While it’s recommended that you leverage local resources, connect with individuals on the ground, and understand your own level of risk tolerance, traveling in June is still very much encouraged, Tanzella says. “This advisory, while highlighting the need for informed travel, doesn’t replace the joy and importance of celebrating Pride around the world,” he says.

Chris Dong is a freelance travel writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd).
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More from AFAR