Is Cuba safe for gay and lesbian travel, and more specifically is Havana safe for gay and lesbian travelers? At the moment, LGBTQ rights in Cuba are a mixed bag. Yes, the government decriminalized consensual, private, same-sex relations in 1979, gay and lesbians can serve openly in the military, and officials declared discrimination based on sexual-orientation illegal in 2010. That said, Cuba does not recognize same-sex marriages nor does it allow LGBTQ couples to adopt.
In recent years, activists have reported improved public acceptance, and the country appeared to be moving in the right direction. However, certain people worry that a backlash is brewing and advise queer people to be more vigilant when in public. Such warnings lead us to ask the question, is Cuba safe for gay and lesbian travel these days?
Is Cuba safe for LGBTQ travelers? Despite its conservative streak, the country is a popular vacation destination for gay, lesbian, and trans travelers. A large swath of Cubans accept homosexuality socially, but religious upbringings often cloud judgments regarding marriage and adoption, contributing to a formal lack of gay rights in Cuba.
Moreover, the island nation is currently weathering an unpredictable human rights storm. Undeniably, some notable advancements have been codified into law. For example, trans individuals are entitled to gender reassignment surgery via the country’s universal healthcare system. However, as recently as 2019, the government has canceled pro-gay events, including the annual Pride parade, and there seems to be a soft rollback of gay rights in Cuba in the works. According to the latest LGBTQ Travel Index by Spartacus, Cuba scored a rating of 2 in terms of overall LGBTQ rights, placing it ahead of El Salvador and Mexico, but well behind LGBTQ rights strongholds such as Canada and Belgium.
So is Havana safe for LGBTQ travelers? While we’d all love every city in the world to have its own version of The Castro, this is just not the case. Unfortunately - though a few gay-friendly nightspots have opened in recent years - there is no gay area in Havana, and the lack of representation begs the question: is Havana safe for gay and lesbian travelers? The answer isn’t straightforward. While anti-LGBTQ violence is rare these days, conservative sentiments still run deep in the country, and heckling happens. That said, there is a gay beach, Mi Cayito, which is about an hour east of Havana. You’ll know you’re there when you reach the rainbow flags!
In search of a gay accommodation in Cuba? There may not be a dedicated gay area in Havana or elsewhere in Cuba, but misterb&b is here to help you find your tribe while on holiday. A leading LGBTQ travel booking platform, misterb&b hosts a worldwide listing of hotels and vacation rentals run by members of the LGBTQ community and their allies. Staying at apartments, guesthouses, and LGBTQ-friendly hotels owned and operated by gay, lesbian, and trans individuals and families is a plus on so many levels.
Should you wish to tap into the local LGBTQ scene, staying with a misterb&b host is a good place to start. Find out about your respective city’s best gay bars, restaurants, and clubs, and potentially make a lifelong friend along the way! Since LGBTQ rights in Cuba are currently under fire, supporting the local gay and lesbian economy is a super way to take a stand for equality and experience your pride.