Friday, January 10, 2014

Travel Alert to Russia Issued Ahead of Sochi Olympic Games

With the upcoming Olympics in February, many eyes have been turned towards Russia at large, and Sochi - which is hosting the Games - more specifically. Now, they have drawn the gaze of the U.S. Department of State. Among the issues of concern are terrorist threats and hostage-taking (some bombings have already occurred), less than stellar health care should someone fall ill there while attending the Games, public demonstrations, lodging and so on.

One of the more prominent reasons for the travel advisory is one that has acquired extensive media coverage over the past several months: Russia ban on so-called pro LGBT "propaganda." One section of the travel advisory spells out Russia's threat to the LGBT community and its allies, foreign and domestic:
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) ISSUES: In June 2013, Russia’s State Duma passed a law banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. The U.S. government understands that this law applies to both Russian citizens and foreigners in Russia. Russian citizens found guilty of violating the law could face a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,100). Foreign citizens face similar fines, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation. The law makes it a crime to promote LGBT equality in public, but lacks concrete legal definitions for key terms. Russian authorities have indicated a broad interpretation of what constitutes “LGBT propaganda,” and provided vague guidance as to which actions will be interpreted by authorities as “LGBT propaganda.” LGBT travelers should review the State Department’s LGBT Travel Information page.
The travel alert can be read in full at the State Department's website HERE

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