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