Queer
1 min

Voting with our feet

BY ROB SALERNO – Queers concerned with the rights of our brothers and sisters overseas may have hit on a useful new strategy: tourism. 

It
seems every week there’s a new story about the hot new gay destination
or the new country that’s chasing after the pink dollar.

But this
week brought news that Greece, long a gay tourism mecca for its iconic
resort islands of Mykonos and Lesbos, is falling out of favour with gay
tourists
. Bloomberg reports that the drop-off has to do with
tourists’ discomfort with homophobia in Greece, and a renewed curiosity
about destinations in Latin America, where gays and lesbians are
starting to enjoy unprecedented advances in rights. 

It appears that the
Greek government is catching on, as the same report indicates that the
country is considering passing same-sex civil union laws in order to
bring some good news back to the country, which has spent the last year
under scrutiny for its mounting debt woes. It’s also a conscious attempt
to differentiate the country from neighbouring Turkey, with whom Greece
has a longstanding rivalry. Turkey is even further away from
recognizing or protecting queer people than Greece is. 

While it
would be great to have countries coming to the international queer
community for advice on how to make us love them more, it’s unclear if
this case can be positively associated with other countries. Boycott
campaigns may not work where the countries don’t actually want queers to visit  and may just serve to further impoverish the poorest of people
(see Jamaica).

Greece had already become used to
an international queer presence, and our absence is what’s making them
call us back. As they say, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

It may be that tourism can be a vital weapon for the advancement
of gay rights only in places where a solid foundation of rights already
exists.
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