Is the Maldives a safe gay destination?
The Maldives is a Muslim country and unfortunately carries all the usual Sharia Law ‘decoration’ with it like:
- it is illegal for Maldivian citizens to be non-Muslim
- women must be covered up at all times – even when going for a jog or swimming in the sea
- alcohol is illegal
- gayness of any sort here runs the risk of the death penalty…
Gay Maldives: the reality
We didn’t find the Maldives to be as scary as we thought it would be. Fortunately for gay tourists, the Maldivian economy relies heavily on tourism as its main source of income, so there will always be a different view towards foreigners.
Just don’t go expecting to find a gay community or even a gay scene – there just isn’t one!
We were also careful to avoid any public displays of affection. We are generally not very flamboyant in public on our travels, China of course, was a slight exception:
Gay-friendly accommodation in the Maldives
Generally speaking, well known private resorts are welcoming towards gay couples. We have selected fro you the most gay friendly resorts, so you do not have to worry about sleeping in the same bed with your other half. And alcohol is also allowed on these private islands.
W RETREAT AND SPA MALDIVES Book online
- Very trendy and gay friendly resort. It has its own night club.
- Each private retreat has its own plunge pool and sundeck.
- Great house reefs with plenty of white tip and black tip reef sharks.
- Prices start from $1968 / £1346 a night.
CONRAD MALDIVES Book online
- A real oasis, with villas overlookign the reefs.
- You can just jump in the water from your private villa.
- Stunning sunsets.
- Prices start from $3750 / £2531 a night.
SHANGRI LA’S VILLINGILI RESORT Book online
- A real heaven, mixing luxury, romance and relaxation.
- House reef is pristine: turtles, lots of fish and small sharks.
- Delicious fish (sea food lovers, you will be spoiled).
- Prices start from $1349 / £922 a night.
To go or avoid?
In practice we found the Maldives to be no different to any other developing country in Asia struggling to accept gayness. If you’re discreet, you won’t experience any problems at all.
We stayed at a guesthouse on a local island called Thoddoo and were cautious to book twin beds not double. With hindsight we found the locals to be more relaxed towards tourists then we thought and unlikely to ferry in the Maldivian police to have us arrested.
The most attention we attracted was being asked if we are brothers.
We also had the private bikini beach all to ourselves as the locals don’t use it. We felt comfortable to be a bit more docile with each other there.
The story of a very unfortunate gay Maldivian blogger
We read about an openly gay and secular Maldivian blogger called Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed who had his throat slashed outside his home in Male after years of campaigning for free speech, religious tolerance and secularism.
Fortunately he survived and fled to Sri Lanka. The offending blog (www.hilath.com) has been taken down, but he is still semi active on his new blog.
However, news like this really did put us on edge before arriving in the Maldives, hence our over cautious nature when visiting this beautiful country as a gay couple.