Russia's anti-gay law will impact tourists, Olympic athletes

Huffington Post
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July 11, 2013
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Bad news for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travelers hoping to visit Russia, as foreign tourists will now be subjected to the same "gay propaganda" fines and sentences as residents.

Travel site Skift reports that the new law, signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 30, contains a provision that allows the government to arrest and detain gay (or "pro-gay") foreigners for up to 14 days before they would then be expelled from Russia.

As far as what is considered "pro-gay," the laws specifics are somewhat vague, butCanadian site Travel and Escape suggests "gay-affirmative" speech, displaying a rainbow flag and same-sex partners holding hands are among the prohibited actions.

The move comes at a particularly critical time as the nation is currently gearing up to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Boris O. Dittrich, Advocacy Director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, blasted the law in a letter to the International Olympics Committee's (IOC) Director General Christophe De Kepper, noting, "Human Rights Watch’s long-standing position is that there cannot be a successful Olympics where there is discrimination or human rights abuses ... Foreigners -- possibly including athletes -- who violate the law, including possibly by speaking about their sexual orientation in public, run the risk of being fined, arrested for up to 15 days, and deported from Russia."