The sun sets on St. Petersburg tourism
When it comes to traveling the world, in general, we're not one for boycotts even when local politics conflict with gay rights. For example: being gay in Egypt is far from a walk in the park, but every respectful gay traveler is a chance to change a local's closed mind -- and the pyramids are nothing if not a cultural asset the whole world should be allowed to see. To a paraphrase of Harvey Milk's famous "come out, come out", Out adds its own coda: Get out!
Then again, we're not advocating a visit to Iran or Uganda any time soon. And now, it looks like we're going to have to say "net" to St. Petersburg, Russia as well.
Finishing a process that began last November with politicians introducing a bill that would outlaw not only gay parades, but any discussion of gay issues in a public forum -- a move that had Moscow tell the U.S. State Department to "butt out" of its politics -- a third vote was taken yesterday in which the bill passed, and was signed into law. Not even an intervention by the European Union and worldwide protests and campaign by gay-advocacy group AllOut.org was enough to stave off the anti-gay measure.
The law criminalizes reading, writing, speaking, or reporting on anything related to LGBT people. Funny, by our account Russia is already pretty damned gay!
Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director for AllOut.org, responded in a press release yesterday: “By validating a new regime of censorship and intolerance, Governor Poltavchenko has diminished the reputation of his city with the stroke of a pen. 100,000 people have promised not to visit the 'new' St. Petersburg after this law goes into effect. Travel companies are considering revising their scheduled trips to the city."
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