Conservative India unlikely hotspot on gay tourism map

Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:23pm EST
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By Diksha Madhok

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - When Thomas Roth first visited India, he was often asked about his wife and children -- questions he would try to evade.

That was thirty years ago, when homosexuality was a criminal offence in India and for many the term "gay" only meant "happy."

Roth is again planning a trip to India, this time with his partner, and hopes the visit will coincide with the annual Queer Pride parade in New Delhi.

"(Earlier) like most gays in India at that time, I was basically invisible," said Roth, who runs a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community market research firm in San Francisco.

"Now, with emerging Gay Pride events, film festivals, parties, etc. gay visitors can have it all," he added, in an email interview.

Since homosexuality was decriminalized in India in 2009, an increasing number of LGBT tourists are viewing India as a holiday destination.

A survey conducted by Roth's firm in the United States last year ranked India as the second most desired cultural or adventure destination, just behind Thailand.

Changing mindsets have created business possibilities for travel operators, who are now portraying India as an emerging gay-friendly destination.   Continued...