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Friends of ours are going on a Viking River cruise in Russia next year and my husband and I are considering joining them. My biggest concern is how we will be treated as a gay couple, not on the ship, but on shore.

Does anyone have any experience on being in Russia on a cruise as an LGBT person? Given what I see on the news I am wondering...

Thanks!

Paul

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I’ve spent 5 weeks in Russia, but too long ago to comment on the current situation other than giving my impressions.

 

Unless you get an independent travel visa, my understanding is that your visas will be valid just as part of a guided tour when off of the ship, so I wouldn’t worry too much in that case, but would avoid PDA, even though this was common among straight men when I was there.

 

I’m a bit mixed in my opinion of Russia right now, but some sites like the Hermitage are bucket list sort of opportunities. I still remember standing in awe inches away from the unprotected DaVinci’s Madonna and Child.

 

I’d probably stay away from independent excursions into the gay nightlife, but would personally be ok during the day, but wouldn’t recommend that if you don’t know some Russian and can navigate the metros independently.

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I’m a bit mixed in my opinion of Russia right now, but some sites like the Hermitage are bucket list sort of opportunities.

 

A bit mixed? It's a murderous kleptocracy run by a tyrant with huge public support, rife with antigay legislation and homophobic thuggery, a government that interfered in our electoral system to promote the election of the most anti-queer Administration in many years, all in concert with a population that's overwhelmingly homophobic and a church that makes the Pope look like Armistead Maupin.

 

So what's the on-the-other-hand?

 

Much as I'd like to finally visit the Hermitage, there are many other museums worldwide where I can spend my soon-to-be-rubles instead.

Edited by shepp

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As tourists we have choices. If you choose to visit Russia then you are under their laws and you might find that your own government will have difficulty intervening on your behalf. The fact that the LGBTQ2 community in Russia is attacked by the government and religion is enough for me to stay away. I don't want any of my tourist dollar to find its way to agencies or organizations who would use the income to attack LGBTQ2. Russia has no free elections, no independent courts or justice, and no free press.

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Paul, we did this cruise on Viking in 2006 so it has been awhile, and we also went back to Russia in 2008 on Princess. We never felt uncomfortable or singled out and on the Viking cruise in Russia we were with a larger group of people 80% of the time when on tour. That said, we also didn’t do anything to bring attention to ourselves either. Of course much has happened in Russia since then, but if the opportunity arose today, we’d do it again. We’ve been on seven Viking River cruises and have always been treated with respect and had a wonderful time on all of them.

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A bit mixed? It's a murderous kleptocracy run by a tyrant with huge public support, rife with antigay legislation and homophobic thuggery, a government that interfered in our electoral system to promote the election of the most anti-queer Administration in many years, all in concert with a population that's overwhelmingly homophobic and a church that makes the Pope look like Armistead Maupin.

 

So what's the on-the-other-hand?

 

Much as I'd like to finally visit the Hermitage, there are many other museums worldwide where I can spend my soon-to-be-rubles instead.

 

 

 

Geeezzz, don’t hold back. Say whats on your mind...

 

 

Sent from my Timex Sinclair

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Thanks all. I am hesitant, hoping someone with river cruise experience would see this.

Happy sails!

Perhaps you should try posting on the river cruise board.

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A bit mixed? It's a murderous kleptocracy run by a tyrant with huge public support, rife with antigay legislation and homophobic thuggery, a government that interfered in our electoral system to promote the election of the most anti-queer Administration in many years, all in concert with a population that's overwhelmingly homophobic and a church that makes the Pope look like Armistead Maupin.

 

So what's the on-the-other-hand?

 

Much as I'd like to finally visit the Hermitage, there are many other museums worldwide where I can spend my soon-to-be-rubles instead.

Oh my God! Enough about Trump! Oh, sorry it was about Putin! Sick humor aside, I agree. I'd rather spend my $$ elsewhere. Same with Jamaica. We try to avoid cruises to that island. If, unfortunately our cruise uses that S#######hole as a stop, it will be a full spa day for us.

Edited by keithm
additions

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Geeezzz, don’t hold back. Say whats on your mind...

 

 

Sent from my Timex Sinclair

Shepp & I have argued at times in the past(pretty distant)I certainly trust his wisdom on issues like this. Why spend our money on places that treat us like second class people at best & would easily murder us at worst.

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To me it’s very simple...I do not go to a place I’m not welcomed. Why give my money to people who doesn’t want it. Russia was and is on my bucket list of course but for now it will have to wait.

 

Sea ya

Eric

 

 

Envoyé de mon iPad en utilisant Forums

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I understand your concerns but I think that if you stay in groups and don't exhibit PDA you should be okay. We won a trip to China a few years ago and had MAJOR concerns! We did a lot of research and hired private tours and drivers to ensure our safety. We had a great time and never felt unsafe! So, in hindsight, we may have gone overboard (pun intended! Ha!)

 

So don't engage in any risky behaviors or activities (true for straights too!) and have a blast!!!!

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A bit mixed? It's a murderous kleptocracy run by a tyrant with huge public support, rife with antigay legislation and homophobic thuggery, a government that interfered in our electoral system to promote the election of the most anti-queer Administration in many years, all in concert with a population that's overwhelmingly homophobic and a church that makes the Pope look like Armistead Maupin.

 

So what's the on-the-other-hand?

 

Much as I'd like to finally visit the Hermitage, there are many other museums worldwide where I can spend my soon-to-be-rubles instead.

 

Perfect post Shepp, I feel exactly the same way.

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Shepp & I have argued at times in the past(pretty distant)I certainly trust his wisdom on issues like this. Why spend our money on places that treat us like second class people at best & would easily murder us at worst.

 

That's the first time I've been accused of having wisdom...

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A bit mixed? It's a murderous kleptocracy run by a tyrant with huge public support, rife with antigay legislation and homophobic thuggery, a government that interfered in our electoral system to promote the election of the most anti-queer Administration in many years, all in concert with a population that's overwhelmingly homophobic and a church that makes the Pope look like Armistead Maupin.

 

So what's the on-the-other-hand?

 

Much as I'd like to finally visit the Hermitage, there are many other museums worldwide where I can spend my soon-to-be-rubles instead.

 

Not being an native, I thought your opening salvo must have pertained to the United States Of America.... even on a second read. To go to one's eternal rest without having seen the Heritage is self deprivation to the extreme. Even the Armory in the Kremlin, filled with such historical national treasures, was 'awe' personified

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To go to one's eternal rest without having seen the Heritage is self deprivation to the extreme. Even the Armory in the Kremlin, filled with such historical national treasures, was 'awe' personified

 

I've toured the Taj Mahal by moonlight, spent a week in Angkor, watched penguins in the Falklands, climbed to the Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan, snorkeled in the Galapagos, seen the sun come up from the top of Mount Sinai, `strolled through the souk in Aleppo before it was destroyed, and gone to hundreds and hundreds of museums and palaces. Sorry, but I don't feel particularly self-deprived. And from a Buddhist afterlife perspective, I bet paying money to a tyrant is a lot worse than not seeing some Faberge tchotchkes.

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I've toured the Taj Mahal by moonlight, spent a week in Angkor, watched penguins in the Falklands, climbed to the Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan, snorkeled in the Galapagos, seen the sun come up from the top of Mount Sinai, `strolled through the souk in Aleppo before it was destroyed, and gone to hundreds and hundreds of museums and palaces. Sorry, but I don't feel particularly self-deprived. And from a Buddhist afterlife perspective, I bet paying money to a tyrant is a lot worse than not seeing some Faberge tchotchkes.

 

Bravo!

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i've toured the taj mahal by moonlight, spent a week in angkor, watched penguins in the falklands, climbed to the tiger's nest monastery in bhutan, snorkeled in the galapagos, seen the sun come up from the top of mount sinai, `strolled through the souk in aleppo before it was destroyed, and gone to hundreds and hundreds of museums and palaces. Sorry, but i don't feel particularly self-deprived. And from a buddhist afterlife perspective, i bet paying money to a tyrant is a lot worse than not seeing some faberge tchotchkes.

+ 2

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Well said, but it's kind of painfully obvious that most places you listed have some form of a recent or not too recent history of human rights issues. Except maybe the penguins. So there must be degrees of what you find acceptable, then? What's the cutoff point? :-)

But I have to say i'd take sunset with penguins over tchotchkes any day.

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Well said, but it's kind of painfully obvious that most places you listed have some form of a recent or not too recent history of human rights issues. Except maybe the penguins. So there must be degrees of what you find acceptable, then? What's the cutoff point? :-)

But I have to say i'd take sunset with penguins over tchotchkes any day.

 

Interesting question, really, where one draws the line.

 

Let's take Bhutan. It's reputed to be Shangri-la and for a country of its size and stature, it takes care of its citizens very well. On the other hand, there are plenty of Nepali migrant workers in the south of the country who are reputedly treated very shabbily indeed. To go or not to go?

 

I was in Syria during the rule of Daddy Assad, which was a horror show albeit not nearly as bad as now. It was part of a longer Egypt-to-Turkey overland which included a trip to the West Bank and Israel's human rights history is rather spotty as well. To go or not to go?

 

I went to Burma during the waning days of the junta, when the boycott was loosening, and tried to spend as little money with the government as possible. Still, some dollars did make it to the junta's hands. To go or not to go? (Though BTW, I'd never go back now.)

 

I went to North and South Carolina on a roller-coaster trip, and they sure don't treat their LGBT citizens all that well. To go or not to go?

 

And, of course, the Argentinians view the Brits who rule the Falklands as international criminals. The penguins are cute, though.

 

It's hard to be a purist and a traveler, I guess. We each draw our own lines. I suppose I just really hate Putin.

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To this point, I think it's about context too. I think it's one thing to talk about many countries in the world, 30, 20 or even 10 years ago, where LGBT were second class citizens or, at best, content for whatever scraps they could get from the table. Even the U.S. until recently banned openly LGBT citizens from the military and outlawed same sex marriage. And if we're really being honest, the U.S. still lags far behind much of the Western world in terms of legal protections for LGBT.

 

Now, all that being said, in today's climate, after LGBT rights have advanced tremendously from what they were, it is especially unacceptable for regimes that not only discriminate against LGBT, but also aggressively single them out for arrest, humiliation incarceration or even worse. We're talking about Jamaica. Russia. And basically all Arab nations, most countries in Africa, parts of Indonesia, Singapore, etc. When there are so many wonderful parts of the world where I and my queer tourist dollars are welcome, why would I spend two seconds thinking about countries that actively seek out the means toward my demise? Would I love to visit the Hermitage? Sure. But I'm not going to trample all over my principles to get there.

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I am with you "hejiranyc", I have been to Russia and Burma when I thought the LBGT climate was reasonable and or improving, but to be honest it was and is not improving.

All countries see BIG $ in tourism but if the politics of a country stink for LBGT or any other reason or group, LETS NOT GO.

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We're really struggling with this question. We're taking a baltic cruise and are excited by everything but can't figure out what to do with Russia. On the one hand, I don't want to be there and not see it and on the other hand it makes me worried.

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We're really struggling with this question. We're taking a baltic cruise and are excited by everything but can't figure out what to do with Russia. On the one hand, I don't want to be there and not see it and on the other hand it makes me worried.

 

I don't necessarily think there's anything physical to worry about (assuming you behave with decorum.) The only thing I worry about is feeding the economy of a tyrant who would love to see you dead!

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It is very easy to find justification for visiting Russia. However, if you have any moral scruples, you would avoid it at all costs. In the UK at the moment there is a programme with the comedian Frankie Boyle touring the country prior to the World Cup. In the first programme, Russians make it clear that a) being gay is a choice b) if men have the choice of having their hair cut by gay men or a woman - real men would always prefer a woman barber.

In rural Scotland, two men can and do walk hand in hand. Some people may be surprised when they see this but the majority of people would support their right to do so and the law is certainly on their side.

We should be avoiding Burma and most African and Middle East countries as well. Some states in the USA also need to come into the 21st Century.

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In the first programme, Russians make it clear that a) being gay is a choice b) if men have the choice of having their hair cut by gay men or a woman - real men would always prefer a woman barber.

 

And?..

Unless you have plans to open up a barber shop in Russia, how does it affect you?

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And?..

Unless you have plans to open up a barber shop in Russia, how does it affect you?

 

My point is that the majority of men and women in Russia believe that being gay is a choice, that it is a problem in western countries but not for Russia itself. The law has no protection for gay men and women and, as a tourist, I dread to think what the reaction would be if you made your sexuality known.

 

Russia is a massive country and being gay is difficult enough in cities. Imagine what life is like in smaller towns and rural areas. Family members turn against relatives if they come out as being gay, jobs are impossible to find and violence is a daily threat. There are no legal protections.

 

Likewise, look at the difference in legal protection for gay people in the different US states. Georgia, for one, has a long way to go before it is on a par with the best states. Would I want to go there as a tourist - no.

 

Of course, you can go on your cruise to Russia, have a pleasant time in port and return to the ship. However, if you have any moral conscience, you would not go to Russia and support Putin's regime by spending your money in his country.

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The law has no protection for gay men and women
Well, the law offers protection to people, period, - regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, or skin color. Or are we looking for an extra layer of protection?

 

 

Family members turn against relatives if they come out as being gay, jobs are impossible to find and violence is a daily threat. There are no legal protections.

The situation you describe reminds me of small-town Ohio of 15 years ago. Are you saying if I had any moral scruples, I should not have visited?

if you have any moral conscience, you would not go to Russia and support Putin's regime by spending your money in his country.

Well, see - I am somewhat allergic to generalizations, and I think that's why I have issues with blanket boycotts. I tend to believe I have some moral conscience; I don't support Putin's regime, and yet I am in Russia (not "his country") now.

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Well, the law offers protection to people, period, - regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, or skin color. Or are we looking for an extra layer of protection?

 

 

The situation you describe reminds me of small-town Ohio of 15 years ago. Are you saying if I had any moral scruples, I should not have visited?

Well, see - I am somewhat allergic to generalizations, and I think that's why I have issues with blanket boycotts. I tend to believe I have some moral conscience; I don't support Putin's regime, and yet I am in Russia (not "his country") now.

 

We each have choices to make in life and it sounds as if you and I would be taking different paths.

 

I visited the USSR in the early 1980s and i would love to go back. However, not only would Putin have to go but society in general would need to change their attitudes to gay people and their rights.

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Do you all really think that every penny you spend in Russia goes just to the government? What about those in the tourist industry that depend your support. Isn't it possible that there might be a gay tour guide or hotel clerk or a wait person who needs your help to make a living. What kind of message does it send to the gay population when they see you abandoning them. Your presence might just give them some hope.

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Do you all really think that every penny you spend in Russia goes just to the government? What about those in the tourist industry that depend your support. Isn't it possible that there might be a gay tour guide or hotel clerk or a wait person who needs your help to make a living. What kind of message does it send to the gay population when they see you abandoning them. Your presence might just give them some hope.

They should have voted against Putin. Not that it would have mattered. Just like in the U.S. Putin controls the vote.

 

And if enough people suffer because of Putin they might be motivated to so something.

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Well, the law offers protection to people, period, - regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, or skin color. Or are we looking for an extra layer of protection?

 

I suppose if you squint your eyes and contort yourself, that's true. For instance: If I, a gay man, were to visit Moscow wearing a "Gay Is Bad" T-shirt, I would be protected by the law. On the other hand, a straight Russian wearing a "Gay Is Good" shirt would be subject to the same legal sanctions as I would be. Is that cause for celebration?

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For instance: If I, a gay man, were to visit Moscow wearing a "Gay Is Bad" T-shirt, I would be protected by the law. On the other hand, a straight Russian wearing a "Gay Is Good" shirt would be subject to the same legal sanctions as I would be.

 

I'm sorry, too intimidatingly complex of a logical structure there for me to try to unravel at this ungodly hour - I haven't had my morning beer yet.

 

On second thoughs, both t-shirts would likely be in violation of Russian codes, the first one on the grounds of infamous KOAP 6.21 (propaganda to minors), and the second one under art.282 of criminal code (inciting hatred to ethnic, ... or social groups). Given that, your second layer of variables (gay vs straight and Russian vs foreign) seems redundant, as it should be.

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I don't necessarily think there's anything physical to worry about (assuming you behave with decorum.) The only thing I worry about is feeding the economy of a tyrant who would love to see you dead!

 

I don't disagree.

 

We are WAY more excited for our other stops.

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Posted (edited)

On second thoughs, both t-shirts would likely be in violation of Russian codes, the first one on the grounds of infamous KOAP 6.21 (propaganda to minors), and the second one under art.282 of criminal code (inciting hatred to ethnic, ... or social groups). Given that, your second layer of variables (gay vs straight and Russian vs foreign) seems redundant, as it should be.

 

On third thought, you're technically quite right and I stand corrected. (On third-and-a-half, I'm kinda amazed that someone in Baltimore has such granular knowledge of Russian law.)

 

On the fourth thought, though, what you said seems like sheer sophistry. I just meant that both queer and straight people are, without discrimination, banned from promulgating "Pro-gay propaganda."

 

Anyhow, here's an example of how that art.282 works in practice:

 

Russian Lawmaker Milonov Gets Slap on the Wrist for Anti-LGBT Rhetoric

The State Duma ethics committee will reprimand ultra-conservative St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov for inciting hatred against the LGBT community.

While on the Ekho Moskvy radio station’s morning program, he advocated for the public execution of organizers of the LGBT charityDeti-404 ("Children-404"), saying they should be “publicly hanged” and “mercilessly shot."

The ethics committee sent a formal notification to Timoshenko on Oct. 12 and said that Milonov would be told of “the inadmissibility in violating the rules of parliamentary ethics." - The Moscow Times 10/13/17

while on the other hand:

 

British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was arrested on Thursday in Russia for holding a one-man protest against the country's record on LGBT rights, hours before the kick-off of the World Cup.

The veteran campaigner was led away by police shortly after unfolding a poster that said President Vladimir "Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people" near Red Square in central Moscow.

Russian campaigners have previously been charged for sharing information about LGBT rights on social media and detained for carrying rainbow flags at demonstrations. - france24.com 6/14/18

So yeah, being a Russian or a foreigner leaves you equally "protected."

Edited by shepp

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Posted (edited)

We're quite insistent on not comparing apples to apples, aren't we?

 

Okay. Let's take a look at the two examples you provided (TL: D:DR Neither case has much to do with article 282):

Milonov, that POS self-promoting A-grade A-hole, which also happens to be a Russian MP. As such, he cannot be held liable for "anything put forward in the course of a public debate of legislative initiatives, except cases of libel and slander". He also enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution, which theoretically can be revoked. Over the whole modern history of the Duma (1990s to present day) there was a total of maybe 10 cases when an MP had his or her immunity revoked; all of them had something to do with mind-blowing embezzlement, extortion, and the like. So was the official reprimand from the Duma a slap on the wrist? Definitely. Given the circumstances, did it send a strong enough message? I guess it's up to you to decide.

 

Now, case #2. Mr.Tatchell, an activist detained by Red Square. As a veteran campaigner (and someone who had been detained by Russian police before), Mr.Tatchell was undoubtedly aware of the temporary ban on any political/protest activity in the vicinity of the Kremlin and Red Square for the duration of the World Cup. While the constitutionality of such a ban is highly questionable, there was little doubt he would be detained, and it seems it was his goal in the first place.

As a side note - on that day I was was walking along the History Museum not a hundred yards from the whole thing happening - police, cameras, and all. It was not until much later that I realized what I had witnessed, but at the time I was surprised at how civil the law enforcement officers behaved.

 

Now, as to the "detentions for unfurling rainbow flag" thrown in the article for good measure - the one case I remember quite well was in early 2014, when another activist, rainbow flag a-flying, dashed past the security perimeter towards an Olympic torch procession. He was very quickly and professionally tackled by the security entourage and handed over to local police. He was detained and later released. Again, the event was recorded and widely publicised - and, again, the activist in question must have known exactly what the outcome would be.

 

If you are interested in learning a little more about slaps on the wrist for metaphorical "gay is bad" T-shirts - I suggest looking into Occupy Pedofil-ay movement - a handful of thugs that honey-trapped people, most of them gay, into meeting up and then humiliating and beating them, with videos posted on YouTube. At the time, they got some public support and YouTube following, and then, fast forward a year or two, sentences of up to 10 years.

 

My point is - I totally respect your decision not to go to Russia (and, to a lesser extent, to advise others against doing so), but I also regret that said decision is largely based on incomplete, erroneous, and/or distorted picture painted by the media.

Edited by napoxoguk

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A couple of nights ago we watched a documentary about the phenomenon of gay men being hunted in Russian cities so that they can be abducted and viciously beat up. The attackers are educated middle class urbanites. They seek out gays around mainstream venues like film festivals. The women are harassed without mercy, but the men are attacked without any consequences. This is way extreme and very dangerous for all of us.

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Posted (edited)

My point is - I totally respect your decision not to go to Russia (and, to a lesser extent, to advise others against doing so), but I also regret that said decision is largely based on incomplete, erroneous, and/or distorted picture painted by the media.

 

OK, have it your way. It's all fake news. The Russian government does not engage in anti-gay propaganda. Contra Tatchell's protest, Putin vigorously opposes his pal Kadyrov's torture and imprisonment of gay Chechens, and did not threaten Canada for accepting gay Chechen refugees. The government did not prosecute someone for a facebook posting that referred to a group promoting sexual rights for 18-29-year-olds, and did not just shut down an HIV education website for being insufficiently antigay. The Moscow Pride Parade is a ringing success. Russian queers enjoy the full protection of the law. And ILGA-Europe, a network of LGBT groups, did not name Russia the fourth most gay-unfriendly country in Europe, just ahead of Turkey and Azerbajian (though up from 2nd most homophobic the year before).

 

And, of course, Russia does not employ people to go online and covertly subvert Western democracies or post pro-Russian propaganda. So the fact that not one of your Cruise Critic posts has to do with LGBT people except as relating to Russia, the fact that all your 100 other CC posts read like they could be written by the Russian Tourist Bureau, and your intimate knowledge of Russian law and politics despite your living in Baltimore mean nothing. I'm sure you're just another cruiser on the side of gay rights, but sorry, товарищ, our little conversation is done.

 

Happy Pride!

Edited by shepp

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Posted (edited)
So the fact that not one of your Cruise Critic posts has to do with LGBT people except as relating to Russia, the fact that all your 100 other CC posts read like they could be written by the Russian Tourist Bureau, and your intimate knowledge of Russian law and politics despite your living in Baltimore mean nothing. ...

 

Happy Pride!

 

Touche!

You could also add, of course, that my nickname (пароходик) means a "little steamboat" in Russian, and my avatar is a photo of Avrora, a Russian battle cruiser whose blank volley started the Russian revolution of 1917, — and yet another PutinTroll, with his intricate cover blown and his efforts to covertly subvert another Western democracy totally defeated, will slither back into the festering depths of Olgino troll factory near St.Petersburg, Russia.

Edited by napoxoguk

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