Lonely Planet and Uganda (and the Kill the Gays bill)
Lonely Planet selected Uganda as its top destination choice for 2012. Lonely Planet doesn’t typically shy away from controversy. With their choice of Uganda as one of the best countries to visit next year, they do it again.
Uganda has very little tolerance for homosexuality and the the country is highly homophobic. The UK Foreigner’s Office even warns would-be travellers:
There is very little social tolerance of homosexuality, which is illegal. There have been moves, initiated by a Ugandan MP, to introduce reactionary legislation that would further criminalize homosexuality and introduce the death penalty for some activity… you should be aware that homosexuality is generally seen as taboo and exists on the margins of society.
There was a huge international uproar over the “Kill the Gays” bill in May and while it failed then, the country re-opened the legislation just a few weeks ago.
Lots of travellers ignore the politics of a region when they visit, and so apparently does Lonely Planet. At the very same time that the country is announcing a renewed fervor in the persecution of homosexuality, Lonely Planet is rewarding the country with a highly publicized and top-billing travel suggestions. Travel boycotts are fairly common and have been used in the past to effectively send a message by international communities. Sure, it doesn’t always work, but why reward evil-doers with exceptional and unnecessary praise?
Passport Magazine has a nice write-up on the issue as well as a call-to-action to comment on the Lonely Planet article and reconsider their choice.
And as of November 10, 2011, there’s a bit more news about Uganda and the Kill the Gays bill. You can read some more about it on Queerty: Will Ugandan LGBT activism improve now that David Kato’s murderer has gotten 30 years?