Canada’s government has issued a stark warning to LGBT travelers who’re still contemplating holidays in Russia’s second city: Enter at your own risk.
“Canadians [in Saint Petersburg] are advised to avoid displaying affection in public, as homosexuals can be targets of violence,” reads the advisory from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, released on Friday. “Homosexuality is legal, though some still strongly disapprove of it.”
The alert comes on the heels of Saint Petersburg’s new “gay gag” law, which mandates fines for anything that could be perceived as “promoting” homosexuality.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the regulation “runs contrary to core Canadian values of freedom of speech, of human rights and the rule of law.”
Baird added that Canada’s Russian ambassador has “written to the Russian government” to express his deep concern about the situation.
The director of Travel Gay Canada, Bruce McDonald, says LGBT Canadians will likely heed the warning and shun Saint Petersburg.
“The number one thing that gay and lesbian travelers look for is safety,” he told the Ottawa Citizen. “If they don’t feel safe, it’s certainly going to be a deterrent.”
Photo by AntoniO BovinO