Only two years ago, same-sex couples in Delhi lived under a 148-year-old law that banned homosexual relations. Now, India is rated “one of the hottest new destinations” for gay and lesbian travellers.

Participants attend the Delhi Queer Pride parade, an event promoting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights in New Delhi. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association listed the country as a destination site for gay travelers, with a list of 11 gay-friendly or exclusively gay travel agents as partner businesses in India.

“The gay community had so many apprehensions travelling to India,” said Sanjay Malhorta in an interview with Reuters. “Now, they look at the option of travelling to India without acting heterosexual.”

Malhorta owns Indjapink, a gay travel boutique, which he says started with 20 clients but now has more than 100.

India seems to be following the lead of its neighbor, Nepal, which has been actively trying to court the valuable market, Post writers Anup Kaphle and Habiba Nosheen reported last year.

Nepal became the first country in South Asia to decriminalize homosexuality three years ago. The country’s Supreme Court approved same-sex marriage as well, and since then has tried to tap into the multibillion-dollar gay tourism market.

Both countries, however, do not have large, openly gay populations. Many Nepalis do not support gay rights or the push to attract gay tourists, Kaphle and Nosheen reported. Likewise, many gay groups and events are kept underground in India, which makes interacting with local gay communities difficult.