Travelling to other countries as a gay person is sometimes daunting, as we don’t always have a feel for how gay people are treated in that country. You should let your fears rest because it is quite safe to travel gay in South Africa.
Acceptance of gay people
While the South African Constitution protects gay people from discrimination and hate crime, true acceptance of gay people can vary from area to area. Generally, acceptance is higher in urban areas than in rural areas and townships. As a gay tourist travelling to South Africa, you would be accepted in (probably) all tourist areas, as our country sees thousands of gay tourists. If you travel into townships, or if you are spending time in rural areas, just be alert and aware that not everyone will be accepting of people who are openly gay.
Homophobia experienced during gay travel
You are extremely unlikely to face homophobia in the top tourist destinations in South Africa. If you do face homophobic remarks, you should report it, and the perpetrator is likely to face trouble. You should be safe to hold hands and show affection in tourist areas like the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Kruger National Park, etc.
If you do venture into rural areas, or if you do a township tour, you will be safe as long as you are not overly affectionate with your partner in public. It is best to avoid attention from people who are not as educated or as open-minded as people in urban areas.
Accommodation – no problem
You should have no issue as a gay couple sharing one bed at any hotel, bed and breakfast or guest house. Most establishments are very used to gay travellers, and you won’t be treated any differently. So you can be free to choose any accommodation that matches your price and ideal location.
There are also various gay-centred accommodation should you prefer this.
Things to do and see
Cape Town (probably your best option)
- Visit Table Mountain. On a good day, take a hike up Platteklip Gorge (wear appropriate shoes, and take food and water), and take the cable car down.
- Take a tour of the Stellenbosch winelands. Nothing better than good wine and fantastic views.
- Visit vibey and colourful Bo-Kaap and eat at one of the local Cape-Malay restaurants.
- Enjoy the sun on the famous Clifton Beach. Third beach (unsurprisingly next to 4th beach) tends to be the gay beach.
- Treat your partner to High Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel (the whole hotel is painted pink – you can just imagine!)
- Visit some of the local gay clubs like Crew, Zero-21, and Pink Panther. Or chill at the local gay sauna: Hot House.
Johannesburg – city of gold
- Take a photo by the Nelson Mandela statue in Sandton City.
- Visit the Apartheid Museum to gain an intimate understanding of what South Africans went through under the Apartheid laws prior to 1994.
- Take a tour of Soweto, a local township where Nelson Mandela once lived.
- Explore the Cradle Of Humankind & Sterkfontein Cave with a history of human life at the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Visit some of the local clubs and bars: Ratz, Babylon and Trouble Bar are some great gay joints.
Durban – great beaches
- Beaches, beaches, beaches!
- Go for a walk or jog along the promenade, offering miles of coastline.
- Enjoy the Sani Pass and Lesotho 4×4 Day Trip – a hair-raising trip up a steep pass with some amazing views.
- Check out uShaka Marine World, a marine theme park.
- Club attitude is probably your best bet for a gay bar.
Top tips for gay travel in South Africa
- While discrimination is illegal, it is best to avoid public displays of affection outside the main city areas.
- There are a number of gay bars and clubs in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Do some research to find out which places match your vibe.
- Going to restaurants as a couple is no problem. There are many same-sex couples wining and dining.
Other gay stats
- Same-sex intercourse: Legal
- Age of consent: 16 (both sexes, homosexual and heterosexual)
- Gender identity: allowed to legally change
- Discrimination protections: Yes
- Marriage: Legal
- Adoption: Allowed
What have your experiences been of travelling to South Africa? Leave your comments in the box below.