If you're wondering why you've never heard of Putin Airlines, that's because it doesn't exist.
But that didn't stop the Gay Women Channel from making a satirical in-flight safety video highlighting Russia's newest batch of anti-gay laws. The group is behind the popular "Gay Women Will Marry Your Boyfriends" and created the video to help support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and equality.
The video starts off innocently enough welcoming Sochi-bound passengers onboard the aircraft and kindly asks everyone to buckle up and to keep trays in the up-right position. The video then asks passengers with small children to "not spread homosexual propaganda or let them know that gays and lesbians exist." Failure to comply will result in passengers to "be cuffed."
There are more requests involving passengers to not hold hands with someone of the same sex, pride rainbow flags and even a joke about taking the back-door exit. While the video's tongue-in-cheek humour may make you laugh, its goal is to spread awareness to Russia's anti-gay laws which went into effect last June.
Earlier this month, Skift News discovered that the new laws contained a provision that now applies to foreign tourists visiting Russia. The provision allows the Russian government to detain gay or pro-gay foreigners for up to two weeks before deporting them from the country. Actions that could get travellers in trouble include "gay-affirmative" speech, displaying a rainbow flag and same-sex partners holding hands, notes Travel and Escape.
On Monday, four Dutch tourists became the first travellers to be arrested under Russia's "gay propaganda law" after they were accused of spreading information about homosexuals to children. Reports suggest the four tourists were in the city of Murmansk to make a documentary about the city's gay community there when they were detained and jailed by police under the new law.
The country's latest laws have drawn international condemnation and scrutiny as Russia gears up to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
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"The city is growing in sophistication as Turkey becomes a wealthy, financially stable country," says Mike Luongo. "Hotels like the waterside Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, or for their gay Pride or for unusual gay events like Istanbear Spring Festival, the Turkish Gay Bear Spring Party, held in early April of this year, coinciding with other Istanbul spring festivals."
Mike Luongo: "As the country becomes safer, more popular, it is an underexplored part of South America becoming better known, and the capital offers cuisine and art galleries. Last year’s November gay pride attracted a lot of international attention. The Colombian carnival is also in Barranquilla, Shakira’s hometown. Partly driving this trend is gay Latino Americans seeking new places to visit. (Carnivals as a whole are fabulously gay events, even beyond Rio.) These South American events give travelers an extra summer, too."
Tel Aviv, Israel
Jerry Portwood: "This Mediterranean city continues to stun with its level of gay-inclusiveness as well as its mix of sophisticated cultural offerings and thriving nightlife. Brown Hotel is a great boutique hotel near restaurants and nightlife."
"One of the most open and welcoming Scandinavian cities with a thriving arts and gastronomy scene year-round. The Abba Wine Tasting at at Stockholm’s Spritmuseum is a quirky experience," says Jerry Portwood.
Asks Joe Pedro, "How many times have you heard I do not want to go to Texas, but I would love to go to Austin? Live music capital of the world with SXSW, food revolution (top chef, farm-to-table, food trucks), new hotels (W), liberal attitude (topless bars), active city parks and gay nightlife. The city has nearly doubled its hotel capacity to make way for a new wave of young tourists who are ready to experience the Texas capital."
Auckland, New Zealand
"With direct flights from the West Coast, Denver, and Dallas, Auckland has it all for the gay traveler," notes Joe Pedro. "World-class cuisine, a rare co-exisitng culture, modern and traditional five-star hotels, picturesque waterfront, and several gay bars—but it’s not just an urban getaway. A ferry ride or sailboat away, visitors can experience the endless, Tolken-esque beauty of the North Island."
Key West, Florida
"This long-time resort destination has seen its ups and downs but today it is being rediscovered by younger people," notes Ed Salvato. "It is more sophisticated than it has been in recent years with sophisticated lodging options, restaurants, wine bars and cocktail lounges. Gay men should check out Island house Key West for a frisky experience in a high end setting. Alexander’s is a smart choice for a gay and lesbian friendly experience that also welcomes open-minded straight travelers."
Los Angeles, California
"Silverlake has always been a gay-popular neighborhood, home to the city’s leather bars, rough around the edges, and not very inviting for tourists," Ed Salvato says. "But the area has been a beneficiary of the rising prices of West LA real estate. The leather bars are still here though they’ve been joined by cute and interesting restaurants and stores. Downtown LA has seen the biggest change, with sufficient residential development to finally support a supermarket, along with extensive restaurant and nightlife options."
For Women: Events And Driving Destination Choices
"Women’s events are driving choices, like Aquagirl Miami, possibly the resurgence of smaller destinations and tour operators like Michigan for Mich Womyn’s Fest, Wild Women Expeditions, Wild Rainbow African Safaris," says Merryn Johns.