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PlanetOut: Best and Worst in Gay and Lesbian Travel for 2005

Interesting stuff here at PlanetOut.

PlanetOut Inc.’s 12th annual list of the best and worst places for gay and lesbian travel:

Destination of the Year: Spain: “With its sun-drenched beaches, history-filled cities and picturesque countryside, as well as its recent legalization of gay marriage, it’s no surprise that Spain is the destination of the year.”
Top 5 Gay Resort Towns: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Key West, Fla.; Miami; Palm Springs, Calif.; Provincetown, Mass.

Asheville‘s Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café was named a top women’s award winner for inns and restaurants. “Dyke-popular joint with tasty pastries and sandwiches.”

MEET THE WINNERS!
The 2005 Editor’s Choice Awards follow. Click each link to find the winners (and losers) in that category.

* Top 5 gay resort towns
* Top 10 domestic destinations
* Top 12 international
* Destination of the year
* Heartland awards
* Tourism development and marketing
* Tour operators
* Women’s Awards
* Events/organizers of the year

Fourteen destinations, companies and organizations whose homophobia was evident in 2005 received “Rock Bottom” dishonors, highlighting egregiously anti-gay behavior worthy of a gay travel advisory.

“ROCK BOTTOM” DESTINATIONS

DESTINATIONS
There is much beauty in many of these places, many good, fair, pro-gay people and many reasons to visit. (Egypt is one good example.) Gay and lesbian visitors may also enjoy a perfectly lovely, welcoming time. But official anti-gay policies can make life difficult if not impossible for gay and lesbian locals. (In alphabetical order.)

Alabama
The hateful legislators of this state continue to hamper attempts at gay equality with laws aimed at prohibiting gay marriage and gay families Read more here and here.

Ohio
The pesky state that handed Bush his second undeserved victory has one of the harshest constitutional marriage bans. Read more here.

Iran
This supposedly “religious” republic hanged two boys, one 18 and one a minor, after they were lashed 228 times in the northeastern city of Mashad. Read more here.

Egypt
The government persecutes gays as scapegoats (as in the recent arrests of gay men for “debauchery”), while neglecting serious issues of economy and unemployment. Read more here.

Fiji
The country recently prosecuted two men for having sex, one an Australian tourist and one a local Fijian. The Australian government warned off gays and lesbians from visiting. The complicated local culture is ultimately homophobic. Read more here.

Jamaica
A homophobic culture and outright hostility, such as not allowing a gay cruise ship to dock, contributes to the persecution of gays in Jamaica. Its homophobic laws are rooted in its colonial past. Those convicted of same-sex relations may be punished by up to 10 years of hard labor. Read more here.

Singapore
Singapore rejected approval for the 5th annual Nation party, Asia’s biggest LGBT party, which had been held there annually. It also recently banned monogamous gay couple/musical pop duo Jason and deMarco from performing in an Action for AIDS event, contributing in part to the subsequent cancellation of the entire event. Rather than proactively raise money and awareness of HIV/AIDS, they even shut down a booth distributing condoms and safe-sex messages at the prior year’s event. Read more here.

Saudi Arabia
Though there is a risk that you will face the death penalty, relax — that’s only after you’ve been whipped and imprisoned for “deviant sexual behavior.” Read more here.

Texas
Gubernatorial candidate Rick Perry’s anti-gay comments (“gay veterans might want to move out of state if they don’t like Texas laws”) and rife anti-gay marriage amendment support, plus legislation (which didn’t pass) that would have banned gay and lesbian foster parents continue to make life difficult and unwelcome for LGBTs. Read more here.

Uganda
Parliament just approved a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and impose legal sanctions/fines on those who do marry. Read more here.

Virginia
Virginia is for lovers? Phooey! From the “hate state” that was taken to the Supreme Court to dismantle its interracial marriage prohibitions, now comes “Traditional Marriage” (i.e. anti-gay) vanity license plates approved by the state government. This, among other legislation, continues to make Virginia a hostile place for gay and lesbian residents and visitors. Read more here.

Zanzibar
Homosexuality is already illegal, but a new law sets a 25-year sentence for anyone convicted of having gay sex. This was a reaction to the blossoming of more accepting attitudes. Read more here.

Zimbabwe
President Mugabe condemns homosexuality as “an abomination” and gay people “lower than dogs and pigs.” He has maintained a vocal and political crusade against homosexuality. Read more here.

INHOSPITABLE LODGING
Sandals Resorts
Although they’ve changed their stated “heterosexual only” policy at their couples resorts, Sandals has yet to reach out to the gay and lesbian community through its marketing. Further, an internal memo they sent to their sales agents last year (which was forwarded to us) stated, “we will continue to market exclusively to conventional male/female couples in love. There will be no departure from this original mar
ket niche.” Since they continue to discriminate by avoidance, they’re once again on our list, now for the 12th year running.

[Kate and I cannot f*cking stand Sandals’ cloying “A Moment Like This” commercials with all the overbearing het energy and frolicking couples — it’s like nails on a blackboard knowing this company’s policies. Heinous.]

Cromsaig B&B; in Scotland
This B&B; refused to allow a same-sex couple to share a bed. Afterwards they made an explicit “no gays” policy. “We will only allow heterosexual couples and singles to occupy our double rooms,” said the Web site.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding