LGBTQ+ Travel in Rwanda

Rwanda Welcomes All

Rwanda, the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” is known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and remarkable wildlife. For LGBTQ+ travelers, Rwanda offers a welcoming and diverse destination, with a growing awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights. This blog post will guide LGBTQ+ travelers on how to make the most of their journey to this beautiful and evolving nation.


Understanding the LGBTQ+ Landscape in Rwanda

Rwanda is one of the more progressive countries in Africa when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and a real beacon in East Africa. Same-sex marriages or civil unions are not legally recognized in Rwanda. The country‚Äôs laws and constitution define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  However, homosexuality is not criminalized, and there is an increasing dialogue about LGBTQ+ issues within the country.  In Rwanda, same-sex sexual activity is legal. There are no laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships among adults. This legal stance contrasts with many other African countries where homosexuality remains criminalized.  Societal acceptance is still evolving as the general population comes to understand what it means to identify as LGBTQ+ and the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. 

LGBTQ+ Rwandans

While the legal environment is relatively neutral, societal attitudes toward LGBTQ+ individuals can be conservative. Cultural and religious norms often influence public perceptions, leading to varying degrees of acceptance and stigma.  It’s important to keep in mind that post genocide (1994) Rwandans identify themselves as one people and it’s very important to “belong” whether it’s being Rwandan, a member of the local community, in friend groups, and in the family.  Being somehow “different” can be challenging because that presents challenges to fitting in.  Thankfully there are conversations happening about what it means to identify as LGBTQ+ and Rwandan.  The Rwandan government is socially progressive and there are a number of organizations at local levels addressing LGBTQ+ issues and needs.

LGBTQ+ Travelers in Rwanda

Rwandans are very welcoming of international visitors because of the opportunity to share their culture and the beauty or their country as well as for the financial benefits which in turn help with the development of Rwanda as a whole.  Visitors are perceived as transitory in Rwanda and Rwandans accept them as they are.  Rwandans don’t have expectations of international visitors to fit in or act Rwandan, but they do expect visitors to be respectful of local customs and norms.  Customs and laws can include not bringing plastic bags into the country and not using single use plastics whenever possible (they are currently being banned at all national parks).  Norms can include no overly romantic displays of affection between any sexes (holding hands and a kiss on the cheek are fine, but anything more intimate would be considered excessive) and being very respectful not to insult or embarrass anyone.

Connecting with the Local LGBTQ+ Community

While Rwanda’s LGBTQ+ community is still growing, there are ways to connect and support local initiatives:

  • NGOs and Organizations: Engage with local NGOs and organizations that support LGBTQ+ rights and provide safe spaces for community members.
  • Events and Gatherings: Look for any LGBTQ+ events or social gatherings happening during your visit. These can be great opportunities to meet locals and fellow travelers.  Destination Rwanda can advise you of upcoming events and include them in your itinerary.

Destination Rwanda as part of the LGBTQ+ Community

Destination Rwanda is actively working with accommodations, restaurants, and services across Rwanda to ensure they are genuinely LGBTQ+ welcoming, and when needed we provide them with education and training so that they can be inclusive of all.  We are partnering with local NGOs and providing connections to the larger international LGBTQ+ community. 

Rwanda offers a unique and enriching travel experience for LGBTQ+ travelers. With its stunning landscapes, welcoming accommodations, and evolving societal attitudes, it is a destination where you can explore, learn, and connect. By approaching your journey with respect and an open mind, you’ll not only enjoy Rwanda’s beauty but also contribute to a broader understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+ diversity.

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