UNESCO in the Closet

We, travel bloggers, often write about our amazing experiences, how lucky we were handling some situations, how knowledgeable we are when looking for the best ways to get from A to B or how to find the best accomodation. Only great experiences… But lately I’ve noticed a few articles pointing in another direction, after all, traveling isn’t only a peaceful sea, sometimes we also have to deal with heavy storms and we have to find the way to keep sailing and get to a safe port.

Another thing I notice a lot, is solo female travelers asking for safety tips, which countries are safer for women to travel solo (or even a group of women). Safety, safety, safety. Who doesn’t want some peace of mind while traveling? After all, that’s why so many people travel, to have some peace of mind.

But what if…, you’re illegal?

I mean, not that you did something wrong. Not that you’re being hunted by INTERPOL. I’m not even talking about crossing borders illegally.

What if…, you are just illegal.

What if…, the person you are is breaking the laws of some country you want to visit?

How can one feel safe, when he/she is that way? Born this way?

There are so many places in the world I want to visit, and life is so short. Of course one can’t see everything. But why would I have to scratch from my Bucket List so many places, just because I could face imprisonment, of even worse, death penalty, for loving someone? For solo travelers this should be fine, not that we would be advertising to the world our sexual orientation, that doesn’t even make any sense. But…

What about couples?

Imagine that you can’t be with your loving partner when on holidays? That doesn’t sound right, right? So basically, a gay/LGBT person has two options:

  • Don’t go there.
  • Go back to the closet while in there.

This doesn’t sound right either to me…, but this is the world where we are living in…

I combined two lists together to see how much one can miss in the world, just for not being legal. The UNESCO World Heritage List, and the list of countries where homosexuality is illegal. These two lists together made me realize which wonders are theoretically unreachable for so many people.

Egypt

Wow…, where should I start? So many amazing places there! But certainly, the only remaining ancient World Wonder is known to everyone, if you don’t, you shouldn’t even be in this blog! The Pyramid Fields, from Giza to Dahshur, a UNESCO World Heritage.

Giza Egypt
Giza Egypt ©Sue Kellerman

India

Another World Wonder, now one of the new ones, who never heard of Taj Mahal? And India is just the country that has more UNESCO Heritage! I was so surprised when I saw the list, such a place full of history and heritage, for sure in so many people’s Bucket List…

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal ©Ville Miettinen

Morocco

Another country full of heritage, and a lot of amazing places to visit, and not only UNESCO sites. One can experience so much in Morocco, the Medinas, the desert, the amazing beaches, contact with the nomadic tribes. And so much more!

Place Moulay Hassan
Place Moulay Hassan ©Ángel Hernansáez

Singapore

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to see this country in that list. I’m highlighting it here because I bet most of you would think that Singapore wouldn’t have such discriminative laws. Regarding this list, even though it is a small country, it has its Botanical Gardens listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

ONE
ONE ©Sheu Hau Chow

I could highlight so many other countries, so many amazing places that make it hard for some people to visit just because they were born illegal79 or 81 countries where being gay is illegal. 26 of those that don’t have any UNESCO World Heritage site listed, but I bet they have so many amazing things to see, and so many amazing locals to meet. Covering a total of 226 listed UNESCO Heritage.

The list below is only regarding countries that have UNESCO Heritage and also have anti-gay laws. Numbers not always put things into perspective, maybe listing wonders will?

Afghanistan

  • Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam
  • Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

Algeria

  • Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad
  • Djémila
  • M’Zab Valley
  • Tassili n’Ajjer
  • Timgad
  • Tipasa
  • Kasbah of Algiers

Bangladesh

  • Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat
  • Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur
  • The Sundarbans

Barbados

  • Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison

Belize

  • Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

Botswana

  • Tsodilo
  • Okavango Delta

Cameroon

  • Dja Faunal Reserve
  • Sangha Trinational

Dominica (See)

  • Morne Trois Pitons National Park

Egypt

  • Abu Mena
  • Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis
  • Historic Cairo
  • Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur
  • Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
  • Saint Catherine Area
  • Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley)

Ethiopia

  • Simien National Park
  • Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela
  • Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region
  • Aksum
  • Lower Valley of the Awash
  • Lower Valley of the Omo
  • Tiya
  • Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town
  • Konso Cultural Landscape

Gambia

  • Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites
  • Stone Circles of Senegambia

Ghana

  • Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions
  • Asante Traditional Buildings

Guinea

  • Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve

India

  • Agra Fort
  • Ajanta Caves
  • Ellora Caves
  • Taj Mahal
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
  • Sun Temple, Konârak
  • Kaziranga National Park
  • Keoladeo National Park
  • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Churches and Convents of Goa
  • Fatehpur Sikri
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi
  • Khajuraho Group of Monuments
  • Elephanta Caves
  • Great Living Chola Temples 12
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
  • Sundarbans National Park
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
  • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi
  • Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi
  • Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi
  • Mountain Railways of India
  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)
  • Red Fort Complex
  • The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur
  • Western Ghats
  • Hill Forts of Rajasthan
  • Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area
  • Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat

Indonesia (Aceh Province and South Sumatra)

  • Borobudur Temple Compounds
  • Komodo National Park
  • Prambanan Temple Compounds
  • Ujung Kulon National Park
  • Sangiran Early Man Site
  • Lorentz National Park
  • Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
  • Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy

Iran

  • Meidan Emam, Esfahan
  • Persepolis
  • Tchogha Zanbil
  • Takht-e Soleyman
  • Bam and its Cultural Landscape
  • Pasargadae
  • Soltaniyeh
  • Bisotun
  • Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran
  • Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System
  • Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil
  • Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
  • The Persian Garden
  • Gonbad-e Qābus
  • Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan
  • Golestan Palace
  • Shahr-i Sokhta
  • Cultural Landscape of Maymand
  • Susa

Iraq

  • Hatra
  • Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat)
  • Samarra Archaeological City
  • Erbil Citadel

Jamaica

  • Blue and John Crow Mountains

Kenya

  • Lake Turkana National Parks
  • Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest
  • Lamu Old Town
  • Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests
  • Fort Jesus, Mombasa
  • Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley

Lebanon (See)

  • Anjar
  • Baalbek
  • Byblos
  • Tyre
  • Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab)

Libya

  • Archaeological Site of Cyrene
  • Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna
  • Archaeological Site of Sabratha
  • Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus
  • Old Town of Ghadamès

Malaysia

  • Gunung Mulu National Park
  • Kinabalu Park
  • Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca
  • Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

Mauritania

  • Banc d’Arguin National Park
  • Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata

Mauritius

  • Aapravasi Ghat
  • Le Morne Cultural Landscape

Morocco

  • Medina of Fez
  • Medina of Marrakesh
  • Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou
  • Historic City of Meknes
  • Archaeological Site of Volubilis
  • Medina of Tétouan (formerly known as Titawin)
  • Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador)
  • Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida)
  • Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage

Myanmar

  • Pyu Ancient Cities

Namibia

  • Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes
  • Namib Sand Sea

Nigeria

  • Sukur Cultural Landscape
  • Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove

Oman

  • Bahla Fort
  • Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn
  • Land of Frankincense
  • Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman

Pakistan

  • Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro
  • Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol
  • Taxila
  • Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore
  • Historical Monuments at Makli, Thatta
  • Rohtas Fort

Palestine/Gaza Strip

  • Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem
  • Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir

Papua New Guinea

  • Kuk Early Agricultural Site

Qatar

  • Al Zubarah Archaeological Site

Saudi Arabia

  • Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)
  • At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah
  • Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah
  • Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia

Senegal

  • Island of Gorée
  • Niokolo-Koba National Park
  • Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary
  • Island of Saint-Louis
  • Stone Circles of Senegambia
  • Saloum Delta
  • Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes

Seychelles (See)

  • Aldabra Atoll
  • Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve

Singapore

  • Singapore Botanical Gardens

Solomon Islands

  • East Rennell

Sri Lanka

  • Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
  • Ancient City of Sigiriya
  • Sacred City of Anuradhapura
  • Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications
  • Sacred City of Kandy
  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
  • Golden Temple of Dambulla
  • Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

St Kitts & Nevis

  • Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

St Lucia

  • Pitons Management Area

Sudan

  • Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region
  • Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe

Syria

  • Ancient City of Damascus
  • Ancient City of Bosra
  • Site of Palmyra
  • Ancient City of Aleppo
  • Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din
  • Ancient Villages of Northern Syria

Tanzania

  • Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara
  • Serengeti National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve
  • Kilimanjaro National Park
  • Stone Town of Zanzibar
  • Kondoa Rock-Art Sites

Togo

  • Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba

Tunisia

  • Amphitheatre of El Jem
  • Archaeological Site of Carthage
  • Medina of Tunis
  • Ichkeul National Park
  • Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis
  • Kairouan
  • Medina of Sousse
  • Dougga / Thugga

Turkmenistan

  • State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”
  • Kunya-Urgench
  • Parthian Fortresses of Nisa

Uganda

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Rwenzori Mountains National Park
  • Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi

United Arab Emirates

  • Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas)

Uzbekistan

  • Itchan Kala
  • Historic Centre of Bukhara
  • Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz
  • Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures

Yemen

  • Old Walled City of Shibam
  • Old City of Sana’a
  • Historic Town of Zabid
  • Socotra Archipelago

Zambia

  • Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe

  • Mana Pools National Park, Sapi and Chewore Safari Areas
  • Great Zimbabwe National Monument
  • Khami Ruins National Monument
  • Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls
  • Matobo Hills
Sources:

Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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