Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Could Impact Tourists

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.”

New York Celebrates Gay Pride With Two Months Of LGBT Events

It’s been almost a year since the passage of same-sex marriage in New York, and to help celebrate, the city is working with NYC & Company to bring two months of pride-related events. During June and July, 2012, the five boroughs will be presenting programming revolving around the flagship Heritage of Pride festival from June 16-24 in Manhattan, with motivational speakers, dancers, civil rights demonstrations, parades, street fairs and more. Some events include:

Queens Pride Parade and Multicultural Festival– On June 3 in Jackson Heights, there will be a parade starting at noon, making its way down 37th from 84th. There will be special guests, including the cast of Wicked and a festival at 11:00 a.m. at 75th Avenue and 37th Road.

The Rally– On June 13 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., well known performers and speakers from the LGBT community will come together at the East River Bandshell to entertain and enlighten.

The MarchOn June 24 at noon, a civil rights demonstration celebrating gay rights and recognizing causes will begin at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Bronx Pride Festival– Taking place July 21 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Crotona Park, will offer entertainment, a health fair and memorabilia.

To see a full listing of events for NYC Pride 2012, click here.

[Flickr photo via Guillaume Paumier]

NYC’s ‘The Out’ hotel opens; Louisville plans their own gay hotel

NYC’s “The Out” hotel is finally opening its doors to guests today, reports HotelChatter, bringing to the city the first hotel actively marketing to the gay community. Rates start at $150, and the hotel says that if you tweet or share information online about your upcoming trip, they’ll give you a complimentary room upgrade.

Great. But let’s just say we’re not all that shocked by the opening of a hotel catering to the gay community in a city as big as New York.

But a gay hotel in Louisville, Kentucky? Now that’s news.

The Courier-Journal is reporting that plans are in the works for a 55-room boutique hotel in Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood.

The hotel, called the Vu, will be located in a former warehouse with investments to be lead by a local businessman, also the owner of Louisville gay bar Connection, which bills itself as “one of the 60 best gay bars in the world.”

Rooms are expected to run just $150 – $175 a night and construction will hopefully begin this year.
What do you think – is a gay hotel in Louisville (or NYC) still scandalous, or is it just another hotel opening?

Marriott relaunches their LGBT tailored hospitality portal

Marriott announced today the relaunch and new look for their popular site LGBT travel portal.
The multi-language website is tailored for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) customers worldwide.
First developed in 2010, the “redesigned website is our way to express Marriott’s loyalty and commitment to all our guests,” said Randy Griffin, Vice President, Global Sales, Marriott International, Inc. “In 2012, our aspiration will be to ensure [the website] is the trusted and welcoming source for leisure, business and group travel for the LGBT community as we do for all our customers.”

The new site will feature hotel openings, special events, destinations, deals and promotions as well as a special focus on wedding and honeymoon packages.

While the company currently earns high marks each year in the HRC Corporate Equality Index year and belongs to the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, it’s the Kimpton name that ranks as the top hotel chain in the gay travel business (at least in 2010).

Of course, Marriott is smart to be on the gay-focused bandwagon. The LGBT Community Survey in 2011 shows that mainstream internet and gay-focused internet sites are the best way to target the community, and that 39% of gay men and 32% of lesbians plan to take a major trip in the next year.

Do you think this new website will help bump Marriott’s ratings?

Preferred Pride hotel program caters to LGBT travelers

Nearly 100 preferred hotel group members have joined together to create Preferred Pride, a network of independently owned and operated hotels that cater to the needs of the LGBT community. In addition to being “gay welcoming”, these hotels offer equal opportunity employment and are active in their efforts to support the LGBT community.

Certain requirements exist for hotels to be able to join Preferred Pride. Hotels must be either TAG Approved (Community Marketing’s Travel Alternative Group) or be a member of IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association).

The Preferred Pride program was created in order to bring together a diverse group of hotels from around the world who are committed to the LGBT community, as well as a way to learn more about what this community needs in order to have a more enjoyable travel experience.