Is a gay company endangering its passengers by selling cruise ship holidays to homophobic locales?
Initial reports were that the men were having sex on a balcony in view of people in the port, however, later reports from other passengers suggested that they were either naked or lightly clothed on the cabin’s balcony at breakfast time – on a holiday sold as ‘clothing optional.’ After returning to the U.S., they said they were ‘lightly clothed’ and not having sex.
According to some other passengers, they were not warned to be clothed in port nor were any passengers warned that gay sex is illegal in Dominica nor, on Atlantis cruises, that it is illegal in a number of other places where the cruise ship holidays stop.
The men say they were publicly humiliated by authorities and local media says they were fined for ‘indecent exposure’ (naked on a balcony?). Although authorities said they wanted to charge them with buggery, that would ‘take too long.’ They were marched to an ATM and had to pay a hefty fine.
The response of the company has also riled many. Gay cruise holiday company Atlantis president Rich Campbell said:
They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sodomy laws do exist. But that’s not what they were called into question for. That has nothing to do with this.
Defying the actual Dominican charges, Campbell blamed the men for being “seen engaging in a sexual act outdoors on their balcony in full public view of the port and town.” It is also disputed whether they were in ‘full view’ or whether binoculars would have been needed. They could well have been targeted.
The couple said in a subsequent interview with the AP that the captain ejected them from the cruise ship after police showed up to arrest them and that they were told there was “zero tolerance toward your behavior.”
The Atlantis holidays also include cruises around the Baltic which stop in St. Petersberg, Russia, which has a new anti-gay law that Madonna has said she will publicly defy, with the law’s chief proponent promising to monitor her behavior when she is there.
The law’s vague wording means that anyone wearing rainbow flag decals on St Petersburg streets could in theory be arrested for ‘promotion of homosexuality to children.’ Furthermore, the law has emboldened local anti-gay forces and around the holidays, the cruise ships dump up to to 2,000 out gay men into the ports they visit. The ship’s passengers become a very visible gay presence wherever they stop, which is why they’ve been protested in various Caribbean islands including Dominica.
Yet as with the company’s response to the arrests in Dominica, reports are that they don’t believe the St. Petersburg law poses any threat to their customers as they don’t think it will be enforced. This is despite travel warnings for St Petersburg being issued by several governments.
There is a strong call for a boycott of St. Petersburg from Russian gay people, yet one of the leads in breaking that boycott is a big gay-owned business. So much for international gay solidarity.
Picture by flamingbear