New research from Virgin Holidays reveals the disparity between the experiences of LGBT+ and straight couples on holiday – with many LGBT+ holiday-makers opting to ‘go back into the closet’ whilst abroad.
84% of straight couples are at ease showing affection to a partner abroad – the majority being even more affectionate that when at home – but with only one in LGBTW+ couples showing open affection with a loved one whilst abroad.
The research showed that one in three LGBT+ travellers have experienced discrimination, including judgement and ridicule, abroad; this includes being stared at (58%) or laughed at (35%) and a third (29%) had been verbally abused. One in ten LGBT+ travellers have been threatened with physical violence on holiday and two thirds of LGBT+ travellers even feel uncomfortable with everyday activities such as applying sunscreen to their partner’s back.
Sir Richard Branson said: “At Virgin Holidays, we believe everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the right to be whoever they are, wherever they are. That’s why it is shocking that in today’s society some of us can’t even enjoy a simple holiday without fear of discrimination.”
LGBT+ couples said the discrimination was evident in tourists from around the world (40%) with one in four saying they had been discriminated by other British holidaymakers.
However, hoteliers played a big role in the issue with a third of LGBT travellers saying they feared judgement from hotel staff and more than half have had their relationship status questioned, including being offered single hotel rooms and having their beds separated by housekeeping staff.
This has resulted in eight out of ten couples refusing to hold hands on holiday at all, with more than half refusing to hold hands in the comfort and safety of their hotel.
Joe Thompson, managing director at Virgin Holidays, added: “Holidays should be relaxing, fun and full of adventure. Unfortunately for LGBT+ people this still isn’t always the case. We want everyone to take on the world and that’s why we’re working with one of the biggest issues driven publishers to continue to raise awareness of the issues faced by LGBT+ travellers on holiday, and to work with our partners abroad, to give customers the best experience possible.”