Travel Icon Arthur Frommer Condemns Russia’s Anti-Gay Law, Tells Tourism Industry to Take Action

84-year-old travel guide icon Arthur Frommer has written a lengthy condemnation of Russia's anti-gay laws, alerting his readers to the oppressive laws harming gay people in that country and advising travelers and the tourism industry to take "appropriate action."

Writes Frommer in a blog post:

Several gay authors of Frommer travel guides have already informed me that they will no longer risk travel to Russia as long as the "pro-gay propaganda" statute is in effect. Some among them are calling for a broader boycott of all travel to Russia by all Americans, gay or not, as a protest against this denial of human rights. They refer not only to the new legislation, but to several recent incidents of physical assaults by prejudiced young Russians against gay persons, none of which seemed to interest Russian police. And of course, officials and athletes preparing to participate in the winter Olympics are seriously concerned.

In the words of another Frommer author: "The new Russian law is extremely dangerous, borne of dark nationalism, and through its virulent ignorance, the stage is set for a witch hunt. History has shown only too clearly what can happen when a government provides for the systematic silencing and disenfranchisement of an unpopular minority".

I will be returning to this subject as additional facts are known about the exact position of the Russian government relating to these two new laws. Certainly, the development should cause grave concern among right-minded people interested in the protection of human rights. As most of us have concluded, prejudice against other Americans because of their sexual orientation is un-American and should be condemned. And when such prejudice prevents Americans from traveling without fear in another country, that prejudice should also be condemned, and appropriate action taken by persons in travel and tourism.

Americans traveling within Russia must now be aware of new laws that criminalize "pro-gay propaganda"–and threaten them with imprisonment or worse [arthur frommer]


  1. Wisebear says

    He’s been an ally for a long time. His mainstream guides all have suggestions for gay and lesbian travelers now.

  2. trees says

    It is good to see someone from his generation, unlike many others, accept change in society and to reflect that change in his business. His guides have always been invaluable assets in traveling and now I like them even more.

  3. Rick says

    “And when such prejudice prevents Americans from traveling without fear in another country, that prejudice should also be condemned, and appropriate action taken by persons in travel and tourism.”

    If you had to stop traveling to any country in the world where homophobia is the norm, then you would have to confine yourself to your living room for the rest of your life.

    In traveling to any country, one should respect the laws and culture of that country–and if one does not, then one does not deserve any sympathy when one gets in trouble with the law or is ill-treated by the locals.

    Imagine a Saudi coming to America and “protesting” the presence of scantily-clad people–particularly women–at the beach.

    It is up to gay Russians to change their society, not meddling foreigners.

  4. bandanajack says

    hey trees…

    it was people from mr frommer’s generation who who fought to bring you the freedoms you have today. don’t assume anything about an individual based on their age.

  5. MateoM says

    Rick, the difference is that in Russia simply being who you are is a violation of Russian law. While having to cover up in a Saudi nation is too absurd, it is not comparable to the viscous nature, intensity, broadness, and downright cruelty of the Russian anti-gay propaganda law. The fact that you chose the example that you did, that focuses on women and decency makes sense, as you’ve made it quite clear in the entirety of your time on this site that you despise women (and gays). But you’re a gay republican with no spine and a obnoxious troll.

    Frommer’s guides are terrific. I went to Sicily a few years ago and the guide I got made it clear that visible homosexuality would be met with open aggression. He and his company have been allies to LGBT travelers for years and this showing of solidarity is wonderful.

  6. Rick says

    “Rick, the difference is that in Russia simply being who you are is a violation of Russian law”

    No, it is not. Homosexuality–having sex with someone of the same gender–are legal in Russia.

    Waving rainbow flags in public is not.

    I am not defending the law by any means, but it reflects the existing social mores in Russia and it is up to Russians to change that, not foreigners, whose attempts to intrude will only have negative consequences.

    That said, the passage of the law was in reaction to the trash-heap that “gay” culture in the West has become….and to that extent, it is understandable. If the face of “gay” in the West was more mainstream instead of being so flamboyant and trashy, the kind of backlash one is seeing in Russia and all over the world against it would never have occurred and this law would never have been passed.

  7. Steve says

    Rick, I’m sorry you didn’t get any last night. Let’s try to refrain from taking your sexual frustration out on everybody, OK?

  8. MateoM says

    Rick, if it were up to you everyone would have to be straight acting and closeted. You’ve made that abundantly clear for as long as you’ve posted on this site. We get it: you grew up in an intolerant atmosphere which has led you to hate your true self and all things involving visible homosexuality. But could you turn down your self loathing just a little? Your rants are extremely pathetic and it’s kind of a bummer.

  9. candideinnc says

    Good for him. Great to have allies. The argument that we should hold the Middle Easterners to the same standards is somewhat specious, given that very few travelers will go to Iran or Arabia for a vacation. They simply are not tourist destinations. If they were, I would agree that we should do all we could to discourage tourism there because of their repressive laws. Russia is a frequent tourist destination, and the Olympics are encouraging even more tourism. There is little we can do as outsiders besides call attention to the injustice, and discourage all financial support of the states that persecute gays.

  10. GregV says

    I’m grateful to Mr. Frommer for his support of human rights, and I have long thought it was insulting yo walk past a travel agency advertizing in its window a vacation to a locale with no respect for human rights. I would love to see the big travel webdites put their money ehere their mouth is and take places like Sochi, Dubai and Jamaica off their menus until their governments change laws to ensure both citizens and tourists’ safety and freedom are safeguarded.

    @Rick: Your example is ridiculous. I know a Saudi newcomer who was recently, indeed, shocked to see scantily-clad women at the beach. (He has since changed his mind as he’s gotten more used to freedom.)
    Not only is he perfectly free to write a letter to a newspaper or walk around on the street telling how he thinks women should dress (without any threat whatsoever of arrest), but he is also free to go to the beach clad
    in a freakin’ burka if that’s what he wants to do.

    If he were to go to Sochi, or even back home to Saudi, he does NOT have the freedom to say how he has come to feel about gay rights or to wear the shorts that he has now gotten used to wearing.

  11. Bob says

    THE IMPETUS FOR THE LAWS IS THE ORTHODOX CHURCH — just as the catholic church and groups made in necessary for Christie to veto the NJ marriage equality law.

    FOLKS, MAYBE IT IS SMARTER NOT TO REPLY TO THE TRXLLS — why keep it interesting for them?

  12. terry says

    I thank mr. frommer. Rich has a real problem. We’re not talking about waving the rainbow flag and having street protests. The fact that one might wear a rainbow pin or suspenders while innocently walking down the street is now seen as propaganda. The perception that one is gay is enough to be beaten on the street while the police look away. Let any Saudi protest skimpy swimwear at any beach, chances are no one will notice. Religious crackpots are forever spouting off about our sins in Time Square. We accept different opinions which is why the WBC hasn’t seen violent action taken against them, yet. If the world did not take unified action against South Africa Mandela would have died in prison decades ago.

  13. Bill says

    @Rick: Regarding, “Imagine a Saudi coming to America and “protesting” the presence of scantily-clad people–particularly women–at the beach.” …. the likely reaction of a Saudi observing that would be to enjoy the sight, something he’d never get to see back home!

    Regardless, I once saw a Michael Moore movie where they showed some Taliban visiting the U.S. under the Bush administration before 9/11. They had the misfortune of being interviewed by a feminist reporter. They couldn’t handle it and one said, “I feel sorry for your husband.” All that happened to them is that they became video fodder for Michael Moore. Nothing more would happen to a Saudi who decided to protest scantily clad men or women at a beach. He’d simply be smirked at, just as we’d do with a crazy street preacher, but he wouldn’t be thrown in jail for merely expressing an opinion.

  14. Markt says

    Rick – The idea is that it’s okay to be who you are or follow your path as long as it doesn’t prevent others from doing so. In Russia you now have to be who they tell you to be regardless – or you go to jail. These are opposite positions; not the same position as you have decribed.

  15. chuck says

    Rick, your profound ignorance and self-hate must make the struggle to understand the world around you a difficult task indeed.

  16. Mary says

    Why should Russia care what an 84 year old homosexual thinks? Russia is doing what is morally right. Doing what is right is always economically beneficial in the end.

  17. GregV says

    @Mary: Arthur Frommer is 84, but he’s not gay. Maybe you make thst assumption because it’s hard for you to relate to the concept of supporting the human rights of ALL people, even those different from oneself.

    You also don’t seem to have noticed that the countries that have the highest legal and social acceptance of homosexuality have by far — by FAR — the highest standard of living in the world and in their respective regions and those which are least accepting of homosexuality are disatrous failures on any measure of well-being.

    The immigration arrow on the map between those two entities goes one way only. Nobody wants to move FROM Stockholm or Vancouver or Auckland to go TO Zimbabwe or Bangladesh or even St. Petersburg.

  18. Paul says

    He’s not long for this world. Major changes are in order. He would be more effective addressing the PTA.

  19. millerbeach says

    Mary, Mary, Mary! Why should anyone care what a WOMAN thinks? See how that works, sweetheart? Now get back in the kitchen and do something productive…cook my dinner. Snap to it, woman! Pronto! Less yak and more work. BTW, are you barefoot and pregnant? You should be. Oh, and get me another beer. This one is warm.