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."
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.