Why Are Some FlyerTalk Members Boycotting Russia and the 2014 Winter Olympics??

Source of photograph of Vladimir Putin: Kremlin.ru. Photograph of rainbow flag ©istockphoto.com by nickmos. Photographic illustration composed by Brian Cohen.

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.

This has FlyerTalk members who post in the GLBT forum on edge — angry and ready to take action.

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.

Comments (Showing 20 of 22)

  • aces_high at 11:16pm July 11, 2013

    Singapore is ever worse I think. 2.5 years in jail for homosexual sex or something like. My question is: how do any of these laws affect heterosexuals?

  • Enigma368 at 3:31am July 12, 2013

    They probably dont affect heterosexuals directly aces but what is your point? Many flyertalkers are gay. Also it is possible that some heterosexuals may feel they wish to avoid countries with such poor attitudes towards human rights.

  • corruptcanadian at 3:36am July 12, 2013

    I try to only fly on airlines and through countries in which have equality laws, not just for the LGBTQ community, but for women rights and others. I cannot bring myself ever thinking I will step foot in Russia or would want to. As much hoopla and fanfare there is over Emrites or Qatar Airways I do not want my money going to them and do not want to fly them or to their country. Why would I want to go from a western country with open values to a country stuck in Draconian law and feel oppressed?

  • corruptcanadian at 3:40am July 12, 2013

    I can imagine it would be a difficult decision and one of many internal conflicts for a gay athlete to participate in a country with such laws. It is easy to say leave politics aside but in reality the politics are affecting athletes.

  • gum at 5:17am July 12, 2013

    As mentioned before I know the draconian rules for the entry to the US.

    The fingerprints of 10 fingers are taken from harmless and innocent travellers. This is unimaginable in Europe or any other democracy! In Germany § 81 of the code of criminal procedure rulfes that only people suspicious to heavier crime have to suffer this special and visitor-friendly (!) procedure.

    Contacting the American authorities twice regarding this issue delivered only a link to a video which shows how painless and smart this is. 😮

    I think this is the most draconian law I know. It is valid for all people not only a small fraction of people with an uncommon sexual orientiation.

    As log as this law is enforced I will never see the cradle of democracy and the great Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC.

    Therefore the US is – sorry to say – on my list of countries to avoid. Even was in the “pre-Snowden” era.

    I am convinced they have good knowledge about my person through my tax declaration, financials, being fan of an American credit card and so on.

    Astonishingly enough also the filmmakers and media are encouraged not to bring this to the attention of the people. Most nowadays crime/detective films don’t show this *humiliating procedure* any more. Coincidence?

    Therefore my question to the FTers:
    What do you think of humiliation by fingerprinting in an age where the terrorists do all to get public attention (and therefore are not prevented by this measure?

    Any comments appreciated.

  • redreeper at 6:09am July 12, 2013

    Visit the US. Come see our small fraction of uncommon gay people. Gum….wth?? 😀

  • DaddyRabbit at 6:53am July 12, 2013

    I will never visit again, even for the Olympics. Too many Soviet-type really odd people there. Stay away.

  • gum at 7:48am July 12, 2013

    Dear redreeper,

    thanks for your comment.

    Also never watched a parade of them due to the fact that this is their event not mine. I assume that these parades are more a party for this tiny fraction of people han a political demonstration.

    But back to topic, please:

    I am convinced that the fingerprinting is a really serious issue which will in the long run be decisive for the way the democracies will go.

    Like the tendencies in Italy and many Europen countries to prohibit money in the long run and only allow card payments (from amounts execeeding 1,000 Euros in Italy).

    So this topic is too serious in order to make jokes about offering a viewing/specator’s place at one of the parades.

  • shawn2ca at 8:29am July 12, 2013

    I’ve since cancelled my Sochi Olympics tickets. Very, very unfortunate.

  • rjque at 8:30am July 12, 2013

    “back to the topic, please:” ???

    The topic is an LGBT Flyertalker boycott of Russia. Ridiculous U.S. security theater is a completely unrelated topic.

  • redreeper at 11:26am July 12, 2013

    And you can only see gay people in our fabulous parades.
    Gum, I occassionally take urine samples from people who’s only offense was to show up for work that day so I’m having a hard time sympathizing with your plight of possible fingerprint humiliation, which also seriously pales in comparison to the topic of being jailed, detained, and left criminally vulnerable in Russia for being a non-heterosexual. I may not agree with many of the security measures in place in the US, but Russia is saying that because of sexual orientation (which, btw, should be as important as shoe size) you will not be afforded ANY security on a national level if you decide to visit with your commrades. Kinda messed up, no? And during the Olympics of all things, which had Nazi’s running around back in the 30’s. But no gay people please? This is a security threat to our athletes, an insult to the games, and seriously discriminates against people who are neither uncommon nor a small fraction of our society here in the US, and can be seen in places other than parades, like Home Goods and TJ Maxx. And btw: you never see people walking around with a cup of pee in the detective/crime movies either….would you want to? No, trust me -that’s just good editting.

  • nickknock1 at 6:15pm July 12, 2013

    Gum, there is a huge difference. US law is regards to all those that enter. It is not discriminatory, on colour, sexual orientation, etc.

  • acardio at 9:31pm July 12, 2013

    I think this law is ridiculous. On an unrelated note, I’m tired of having the gay agenda being pushed on every single news outlet in the US and reading about LGBT. Just live your lives.

  • rjque at 10:08pm July 12, 2013

    Acardio, what is a “gay agenda?”

  • garkman at 11:47pm July 12, 2013

    The “gay agenda” today is similar to the “black agenda” of the 60s…some people just don’t get it, and most of them never will so it’s simply best to let their generations “retire” with age.

  • corruptcanadian at 3:01am July 13, 2013

    Right, just live your lives, but as long as there are homophobic hate crimes and senseless laws then there will continue to be a push for equality for all. acardio you make it seem so simple but it’s not, especially if you are seen on the receiving end.

  • TravelingBear at 5:21am July 13, 2013


    Go attempt to “just live your life” over the next month by replacing a single pronoun in every sentence that you talk about your opposite gender significant other. How many times will you find yourself having to change that pronoun or even just deny the fact that you you have a spouse.
    THAT’s how many of us who are( to borrow from Gum “) “a small fraction of people with an uncommon sexual orientation” have to talk everyday. BTW Gum, as gay people lots of so called “straight” people share their fantasies and experiences with. Most straight people are not so straight it turns out. You fool yourself in thinking that sexual orientation/gender/gender identity can fit neatly into well defined categories.

  • acardio at 10:12am July 13, 2013

    The gay agenda is the aggressive push for normalization and acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. A huge portion of the US and world population believe homosexuality to be wrong on a moral basis (whether religious or not). Countless American’s have switched sides on this issue due to peer pressure, and not wanting to be seen as “bigoted” or “hateful.”

    Personally, even though I see homosexuality as a developed perversion, I think it is ridiculous to try to criminalize it or discriminate by not giving equal rights. Any LGBT person has the right to do whatever they want with their bodies, in the bedroom etc. And before you go off calling me a “bigot”, I have many LGBT friends (even a close family member), who I care about deeply and have great relationships with. However, I’m not going to celebrate in the streets or be an active supporter of their lifestyle choice.

  • BlueEyedDevil at 11:19am July 13, 2013

    It’s sad what’s happening in Russia. The global march for gay equality moves forward but as with all human rights issues it always comes at a 2 steps forward 1 step back pace.

    I feel bad for the people of Russia and am a bit sad that it’s now a country I can’t visit.

  • BlueEyedDevil at 11:24am July 13, 2013

    “just live your life” is the whole point of the gay rights movement.

    Heterosexual FTers have it so good. They can travel to any part of the world and have a romantic vacation. Do you understand how awesome that is that you can go anywhere with your partner at any time and not even think about it?

    Gay FTers have to always ask “is this a country where I can be imprisoned?” “is this a country where I’ll be harassed for asking for a hotel room with a king bed for me and my partner?” “is this a beach where if I give my partner a kiss at sunset will someone try to attack me?”

    All we want is to just live our lives and dream of a time where we never have to ask ourselves those questions, instead of today where we always have to ask them.

  • rroy668 at 5:07am July 14, 2013

    Those gay friends and family members of Arcadio’s must feel great that he considers their orientation a perversion.

    By the way, some of my best friends are black.

  • gum at 3:24am July 15, 2013

    Dear redreeper,

    thank you for your amendments and the clarification 🙂

    I just wanted to deliver my point of view to the question asked by the blogger:
    “Do you know of other controversial and draconian laws in Russia or other countries about which travelers and FlyerTalk members should be warned?”

    So that was just my personal view as a person having had the privilege to grow-up in a relatively free country, Germany.

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