OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Travel
The United States’ Department of Homeland Security has proposed finally lifting restrictions requiring same-sex couples to fill out separate customs declarations.
Currently, heterosexual families are allowed to fill out one customs declaration per household, while same-sex couples are treated as if they were strangers that happen to be on the same flight. This discrepancy is a direct result of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids any federal recognition of same-sex partnerships.
Treating same-sex families as, well, families is estimated to save two million dollars as the procedure is streamlined.
There’s no word yet on whether this new procedure will apply to foreign (i.e. Canadian) same-sex couples entering the United States, but if it does, we may be able to start using the phrase “land of the free” in relation to the U.S. without using air quotes and chuckling.
The United States will soon lift a 22-year old travel ban forbidding HIV-positive people from entering the country, even for vacation. The U.S. was one of only twelve countries to ban HIV travelers, sharing the unique distinction with Armenia, Brunei, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Sudan.
This much-needed reversal in policy was actually signed into law by President George W. Bush, but wasn’t fully implemented before the end of his administration.
The policy change, which takes place on January 1st, means that the United States will now finally be eligible to hold the International AIDS Conference, which is great, since Canada isn’t all that interested.
- Obama lifts HIV travel ban [CBC News]
Xtra is covering a vacation horror story experienced by a Canadian gay couple this summer. A one day stopover in Dubai turned nightmarish after the couple was targeted for a full security search, then jailed for possessing a bottle of prescription arthritis medication.
Stephen Macleod and Rocky Sharma spent 27 days in an Arab prison, much of it without any contact with each other. Terrifyingly, they were instructed by the Canadian embassy to never hint that they were a couple, as being gay in the United Arab Emirates is punishable by death.
Lucky for them they were eventually declared innocent and released, avoiding the much more dire charge of being gay where it’s not allowed. Speaking of the experience, Sharma told the media “we’ll never go back to that country.”
That’s good advice for everyone. You know, to maybe stay out of countries that want to kill you.
The United States has repealed their ban on HIV-positive visitors and immigrants yesterday as part of a larger bill designed to combat AIDS through research and education.
Since 1987, any HIV-positive, non-US citizen was disallowed into the country, even to visit. This bizarre policy was later codified by congress in 1993, requiring another act of congress to overturn it. Fifteen years later, that has finally happened.
The bill’s journey wasn’t without some strange twists of its own. Senator Elisabeth Dole attempted to amend the bill to be named after the late Jesse Helms, who originally introduced the traveler ban with horrific anti-gay sentiment. That motion was defeated, which is good. Otherwise who knows what wacky law names they’d have next? The Dick Cheney Firearm Prohibition Law… The DDT-Growth Hormone Food Safety Law…
It’s not well-known that the United States refuses to allow HIV-positive travelers to enter the country, even for a vacation. It’s been true since 1987 though, and the policy was codified by congress in 1993, requiring another act of congress to overturn it. Now, after twenty years, two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that, if passed, would end the ban.
The new bill has support from around the world, including Canada. Supporters gathered in Vancouver on Sunday to raise awareness of the bill, including Martin Rooney, who recalled his experience being turned away at the border:
I was fingerprinted, photographed, run through the FBI most wanted list and—two and a half hours later—sent home. I have never felt more violated in my life.
The ban hasn’t only affected HIV-positive travelers. HIV-negative employees of AIDS agencies have also had difficulties traveling to the United States due to the ban.
An Ontario man has pulled his son out of an Oshawa high school after learning the school’s student trip to Europe was booked by a gay and lesbian travel agency.
Dwight Budgell said he became worried when he was asked to make a cheque out to Rainbow High Vacations: “I clicked on [the website]; it’s the world’s largest gay and lesbian travel company.” Panicked, Budgell pulled his son from school entirely, fearing “the propaganda” of the trip and being “blackballed” by the school administration.
The school’s superintendant, Lou Vavougios, was rightfully confused by the action:
The board used an educational tours division that books everything and travels with the students.
Other than the ticket, there’s no other transaction with Rainbow High [Vacations]. It really doesn’t make a difference where you get your ticket from. It’s just a seat on a plane.
Despite Budgell’s drastic and confusing behaviour, he insists that he harbours no ill will toward gay people:
What they want to do with their own personal lifestyle, I don’t have a problem with it.
Oh, we believe you, Dwight… We believe you. (*cough* *bullcrap* *cough*)
- Travel agency prompts man to pull his son from school [Durham Region]
Out Traveler, a gay and lesbian travel magazine, has named Canada’s top 5 gayest cities. While I’m not going to list them here, let’s just say that Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montréal should be expecting a few extra gay tourists this year! Wait, that might be a little too obvious. How about: Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal should be expecting a few fewer intolerant tourists this year. Yes, that’ll do.
As for my thoughts on the selections… Having grown up in Edmonton until my early 20s, I can authoritatively say: “Huh?” Mind you, things have probably changed in the city’s gay community, of which I knew pretty much nothing, having been closeted for the entire time. Plus, Edmonton still has the world’s largest shopping mall. That’s pretty gay, right?
So, congratulations to the cities that made the cut! And may all the ones that didn’t have an absolutely traditional Friday the 13th.
Going somewhere exotic for vacation? Somewhere boring for business? Well, Canada’s Consular Affairs Bureau would like to have a quick word with you first! They’ve updated their travel information booklet, entitled Bon Voyage, But, and the new 2006/2007 edition contains some lovely new warnings for us gays!
What’s the warning, you ask? Well, basically, if you’re gay—and especially if you’re married—beware! Not only will most countries not recognize your marital status, but many will arrest or even kill you. Why, even our friendly neighbours to the south will turn you away if you declare yourselves as married on your travel paperwork.
So if you’re planning on going to breathtaking Singapore, heed the government’s new advice: “Homosexuality is illegal. Convicted offenders may face lengthy jail sentences and fines.” And don’t even think of going to breathtaking Iran, as you may be sentenced to lashing, a prison sentence, and/or death. Jinkies!
Personally, I appreciate the government’s work, but I think I’ll stick to regional travel for now… Alberta Carriage Museum, anyone?
- Government travel guide offers same-sex travel advice [The Record]
- Minister Mackay Launches 2006/07 Edition of Bon Voyage, But [Consular Affairs]