If you're an LGBTI traveller, red on this map means danger

Do you enjoy 'non-traditional sexual relationships'? Then mind where you travel.

Homosexual activity is illegal in 72 countries, and punishable by death in eight.
Same-sex activity is illegal in the countries coded red on this map

Do you enjoy 'non-traditional sexual relationships'? Then mind where you travel.

Over the last two decades, same-sex marriage and legal protection for the LGBTI community has become commonplace throughout many countries. But that has only widened the gulf with other parts of the world, where homosexuality remains illegal, criminal and in some cases even punishable by death.

This map was published by the Australian company Travel Insurance Direct as a risk guide for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex tourists and travelers.

Coded in the colors of the rainbow flag, the map ranks countries from places with the broadest legal recognition and protection (purple) to those where the law is used to prosecute rather than protect LGBTI people (red).

In all, 72 countries and territories around the world criminalize sexual relationships between men (but only 45 have legal interdictions in place against sexual relationships between women). In many of these countries, homosexuality can result in a jail sentence. In nine - Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania (1), Sudan (2), Nigeria (3), Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Somalia (3) - same-sex relationships are punishable by death.

Here's an overview, following the color scheme of the map, going from worst to best.


Homosexuality is illegal in 'red' countries. There are specific laws against same-sex acts, which can land you in jail. This is the case in the following countries:

  • In the Americas: Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana.
  • In Africa: in most countries across the continent, from the Muslim north (Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, to name but a few) to the Christian south (Kenya, Angola, Namibia, among others).
  • In Asia: across most of the Middle East – with some notable exceptions – and then in a contiguous zone from Iran all the way to Myanmar. Also in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.


'Orange' countries have no laws on their books against homosexuality as such but are considered intolerant towards LGBTI people. Here, LGBTI travelers can expect discrimination, prejudice and intolerance both from government officials and in society at large. These countries include popular destinations such as Vietnam and Madagascar, and also:

  • In the Americas: Venezuela and Suriname.
  • In Africa: the West African nations of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin and Ivory Coast; the Central African countries of CAR, both Congos and Gabon; and Djibouti in the northeast and Madagascar in the southeast.
  • In Asia: the Central Asian countries of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; the South East Asian countries of Laos and Cambodia; and North Korea.


Yellow means homosexuality is no longer illegal in these countries, but they do not provide any legal protection specifically for LGBTI people either. That lack of official support often signals pervasive hostility in society against LGBTI people.

  • In the Americas, this is the case across Central America, including in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama; in Haiti and the Dominican Republic: and in Paraguay.
  • In Africa, we're talking about four small countries and one large one: Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Lesotho and Mozambique.
  • In Europe, Russia, Turkey and the three Caucasian countries (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) are in the 'yellow' camp.
  • In Asia, four Middle-Eastern countries are coded yellow: Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Bahrain; as well as Kazakhstan, China and Indonesia (although homosexuality has been banned in the west-Sumatran province of Aceh; and a nationwide prohibition of same-sex relations is currently under discussion).


In 'green' countries, homosexuality has been legalized and some legal protection for LGBTI people is provided, often by applying general anti-discrimination laws.

  • In the Americas: Mexico, El Salvador, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
  • In Europe: Belarus, Ukraine, the post-Yugoslav states of Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia; Albania and Bulgaria (as the only EU member state in this color category); and Monaco.
  • In Asia: Israel in the Middle East; Nepal in Central Asia; and Mongolia, South Korea and Japan in the north; and Thailand and the Philippines in Southeast Asia.


'Blue' countries have legalized homosexuality and offer a wide range of legal provisions for LGBTI people – but not all. They do not (yet) have same-sex marriage, for example. They are:

  • In the Americas: Costa Rica and Chile.
  • In Europe, most of the EU's eastern member states: the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the four members of the Visegrad Group (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary), the two ex-Yugoslav members (Slovenia and Croatia), plus Romania and Greece. Italy is the only western European EU member state in the blue category, which also includes Switzerland and Andorra.


'Purple' countries have legalized same-sex marriage and generally also offer broad legal protection to LGBTI people. They include:

  • In the Americas: Canada and the U.S. in the north, and Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina in the south.
  • In Africa: South Africa, as the glaring exception.
  • In Europe, an unbroken stretch of countries from Portugal to Finland, and including the offshore nations of Ireland, Iceland and the UK.
  • In Asia/Pacific: Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Of course, cultural acceptance of LGBTI people can often be at great variance with the legal situation. For instance, in Russia, lesbian sex has never been illegal and male homosexuality has been legal since 1993. Yet being openly gay in Russia often leads to discrimination and violence. A Russian law against the 'promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships' to minors can be used to target LGBTI activists.

But, as plenty of LGBTI people know all too well, they don't need to travel far to encounter discrimination, or worse. A 2015 report by the UN listed hundreds of hate crimes against LGBTs around the world, concluding that they suffered “pervasive violent abuse, harassment and discrimination" in all regions of the world – including in 'purple' countries.

Brazil, for example, reported 310 documented murders in 2012 in which homophobia or transphobia was a motive. The Organization of American States reported 594 hate-related killings of LGBT people in its 25 member states between January 2013 and March 2014. And in the U.S., the report states, bias-motivated crimes based on sexual orientation rank second only to racist incidents in the hate crime category.

Among the report's recommendations: investigate and prosecute alleged hate crimes, prohibit incitement of hatred and violence on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity, and change laws to remove offenses relating to consensual same-sex conduct. Or in terms of this map: more purple, and deeper purple.

Map found here at news.com.au.

Strange Maps #894

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

(1) Only applies to Muslim men.

(2) For a third conviction.

(3) Only in local jurisdictions that have adopted sharia law.

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.


Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

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Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
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