Lonely Planet and Uganda (and the Kill the Gays bill)

uganda map

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?

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Adam Groffman

Adam is a gay travel blogger and writes the popular blog, Travels of Adam, in addition to being the editor and publisher of My Gay Travel Guide. He likes beaches, sleeping in unmade beds, reading newspapers and city trips. His work has been published in Vanity Fair, Huffington Post, the DETAILS network and numerous travel websites. Follow him on Google+ and Pinterest for more travel inspiration.

5 thoughts on “Lonely Planet and Uganda (and the Kill the Gays bill)”

  1. Wow, I didn’t realise it’s actually illegal in Uganda. I’ve always wanted to go to see the gorillas but I’m up for a boycott, there are plenty of other countries nearby where I can see my cousins 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Lauren. I’m a firm believer that you should be aware of social and political situations in a country. Sure, there are some truly remarkable things you could probably see in Uganda as a tourist. But boycotts are a positive and peaceful way of advancing an important cause for social change.

      I’m glad you were able to learn something!

      1. great eye openers. I have read, invested in dozens of LP guidebooks, blogged and followed Lonely Planet for over thirty five years of world travel. As I am off to see my good Ugandan friend this summer who is gay and paranoid as hell over the state of affairs in his homeland, I will never support nor spend another cent on a Lonely Planet piece of merchandise again – until they publically repent for such callous stupidity. Tony Wheeler and his lack of conscience makes me sick! I believed in LP for so many years, only to learn of their callous disregard for human rights.
        thanks for reminding me of my stupidity.

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