Women in India
To Westerners, Indian culture can seem oppressive toward women. Women in India are expected to dress modestly and behave in a passive manner. Women are often saddled with much of the hard labor around the house, and are expected to wait on the men in their families. This attitude toward women can be challenging, but it is important to respect India’s different cultural norms. Most Indian women are accustomed to and appreciate their role in society, and may be insulted if you suggest that they should feel otherwise.
Western women are not expected to dress in Indian garb, but to avoid getting an uncomfortable amount of attention, it is advisable to dress modestly. Clothing that is tight or revealing, will attract a lot of unwanted attention. Loose fitting clothing and long skirts or cotton pants are comfortable enough in the heat and extremely practical from a cultural standpoint. Also, many temples and mosques require women to cover their heads with a scarf as a sign of respect. This is especially true in the Muslim areas of India. Even if they are not required, head coverings in holy buildings are a sign of respect and will be appreciated.
For women, international travel can be dangerous if you don’t take certain precautions. Compared to many other countries, India is very safe. Still, due in large part to Hollywood films and Western advertising, many Indian men believe Western women are “easy”. Being mindful about how you dress and interact will help to ensure that you will have a safe and pleasant experience.
>>Indian Travel Tips for Women
As a general rule, Indians are a very tolerant people. However, homosexuality and gender identity rights are still far behind most Western countries. The queer community in India is very underground and homosexual sex is illegal. Even among straight couples public displays of affection are discouraged. While most LGBT travelers don't have any problems while traveling in India, it is best to limit overt affection with your partner and to be mindful about how you present yourself.
It can also be confusing for gay men and lesbians because men will frequently hold hands and women will often walk arm in arm. This contact is friendly, not romantic. Until you become accustomed to this level of affection between same sex friends, it can feel a lot like a gay neighborhood in any large city.
Again, it is entirely safe to be gay or lesbian in India as long as you are mindful about the cultural differences.
>>India Travel Tips for the LGBT Community