The experience of moving abroad and working as an English teacher in a new country is daunting for almost everyone, but for LGBT teachers the process of moving away from home comes with an additional concern – in their new destination, will they be able to live openly as an LGBT person? Shockingly, homosexual relationships are still illegal in 74 countries, according to this recent article. But if you’re an LGBT English teacher, don’t worry – there are so many amazing places that you can go and live without worrying about discrimination or persecution. (Besides, who really wants to visit Yemen anyway?)
Full disclosure – Barcelona is our favourite city in the world and we love it here. But as a LGBT teacher you will too! Spain was recently voted the world’s most LGBT-friendly country, and Barcelona is a very liberal city with a thriving gay scene and a huge Pride celebration each year. Legally-speaking, Spain is one of the most progressive countries in the world, with marriage equality and adoption rights enshrined in law since 2005. There is also a lot of work available for English teachers every year.
In Japan there is no legislation to protect LGBT people from discrimination, but luckily discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is relatively rare. While public attitudes towards homosexuality are very accepting, and there are several openly LGBT politicians in office, there is no marriage equality in law. As far as TEFL goes, it’s very common for large language schools to recruit teachers from their own countries, a process which can take up to three months, though it’s possible to find work at smaller language schools once you’re in the city.
Home to one of Europe’s biggest LGBT scenes, Berlin is famously liberal. There is no particular “gaybourhood”; instead queer culture is integrated into the fabric of city life. There are lots of gay and gay-friendly bars all over the city. Teaching TEFL in Berlin usually involves lots of travelling around the city – it’s very unusual to get a full time job in an academy with a fixed salary, but at least you’ll get to know Berlin inside out!
Bangkok is a famously LGBT-friendly city. Tolerant and progressive, public attitudes to homosexuality are very relaxed, and Bangkok has a huge gay scene, though there is surprisingly little in the way of lesbian bars. Sadly the law doesn’t yet reflect this acceptance – Thailand still doesn’t have marriage equality – but a Gender Equality Act was passed last year designed to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination and harassment. There’s a lot of demand for English, but the pay isn’t as high as it is in neighbouring China or Vietnam.
Home to the biggest Pride event in Asia, Taiwan is one of the best places for LBGT teachers in that part of the world. A bill for marriage equality is currently moving through parliament and anti-discrimination laws have been in place for a long time. In recent years there has been a lot of grassroots movement agitating for greater equality, and the newly elected president is personally in favour of marriage equality. There’s also a very high demand for English teachers, so you’ll find work easily.
Despite Italy’s history as a conservative, Catholic country, attitudes are changing. Recent polls show that a majority of Italians support marriage equality and legislation protecting LGBT people from discrimination has been in place since 2003. Milan is the LGBT capital of Europe, with an active gay scene and lots of gay bars and LGBT-friendly spots around town. It’s a good city to be a TEFL teacher, as it is the business capital of Italy and home to lots of professionals who need to speak English.
Argentina was the first Latin American country to introduce marriage equality, and its progressive capital Buenos Aires is one of the continent’s most LGBT-friendly cities, which makes it a great destination for any LGBT TEFL teachers. A lot of English teachers are from Argentina or Brazil, so as a native speaker of English you’ll be a hot commodity!