Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Could Impact Tourists

rainbow flag proudly waving
Shutterstock / Natasha Kramskaya

Tourists heading to Russia are being warned that they could be fined, jailed or even deported under tough new anti-gay laws in the country. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed the new legislation into effect earlier this month with the aim of punishing “homosexual propaganda” but critics say the bill is so vague it could stir up trouble for many gay locals and travelers.

The law makes it illegal for anyone in Russia to publicly admit that they are gay or make any gestures that might hint at their sexuality, such as wearing rainbow clothing, holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex.Visitors to the country aren’t excluded from the tough anti-gay measures either. The law gives Russian authorities the right to arrest gay or pro-gay tourists and hold them in jail for up to two weeks. Gay travelers can also be deported from the country for expressing their homosexuality.

The new legislation comes just seven months out from the Winter Olympics, which the country is set to host in early 2014. The event is expected to attract an influx of international visitors, including many gay athletes and spectators.

However, an LGBT organization based in New York has warned gay travelers to be cautious about venturing into the country, saying, “We really want the LGBT community to know it’s unsafe to travel there.”