What could possibly have some FlyerTalk members so furious and livid that they not only intend to either cancel their plans to travel to Russia or avoid visiting that country altogether in the foreseeable future, but also sign petitions and consider boycotting the Winter Olympic games in Sochi during February of 2014?
Vladimir Putin — who is the president of Russia — signed last week what became a controversial law which contains a provision allowing the government to arrest and detain up to 14 days foreigners who declare that they are gay.
This means that if you visit Russia as a foreigner and you are either gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans-gender, you are now subject to the same fines and sentences as a resident of Russia if you publicly declare in any way, shape or form that you are “pro-gay” — including holding hands with someone who is the same gender as you in public, kissing your partner in public, wearing the symbolic rainbow flag on anything from shirts to suspenders, publicly acknowledging that you are gay, or supporting gay rights.
Foreigners may even face deportation in addition to being arrested and detained…
…and do not expect any assistance from law enforcement or the government if you are a victim of anti-gay violence.
Russia is far from the only country with what some people consider controversial and draconian laws. For example, consider the plight of Alicia Gali, who was allegedly raped by her co-workers at the Le Méridien Al Aqah hotel in June of 2008. Gali was subsequently imprisoned for eight months because her rape was supposedly considered an admission of engaging in illicit sex outside of marriage — an illegal act in the United Arab Emirates under the charge of adultery.
What are your thoughts about the new law in Russia? Do you know of other controversial and draconian laws in Russia or other countries about which travelers and FlyerTalk members should be warned? If so, please list the country and law in the Comments section below.