The politics relating to boycotts can be very complicated, especially when it relates to travel. Arecent example, is the call by LGBT leaders and others to boycott Phoenix, Ariz., in light of the harsh new law meant to target illegal immigrants.
The law grants the power to police to determine the status of anyone they think looks like an illegal immigrant. In fact, the law requires police to to do so. Sounds an awful lot like racial profiling since it’s not really clear what criteria they’re supposed to use. Their shoes? And I have to wonder just how many illegal white, blond, blue-eye Canadians will be stopped and questioned because of this law.
It certainly seems reasonable to want to punish the state for this ill-considered and rather Facist-sounding law. However, the boycott of the state will most certainlly and immediately also affect Latinos who make up a huge proportion of the employees in the state’s tourism industry from gardeners, housekeepers, and cleaners, right on up to GM and higher-level executives in hotels and elsewhere. Business goes down; they lose their jobs.
That puts travelers in the uncomfortable position of going and possibly supporting this Draconian and seemingly racist law or boycotting and possibly hurting the very folks they are concerned about. It’s not an easy choice. My personal belief is that we can find reasons to boycott just about any destination for a law or policy or position that hurts people. Egypt has in the past punished its own gay and lesbian citizens — sometimes quite harshly — but rare is the call for a boycott of that ancient country with its important monuments.
Another consideration is that the very act of traveling by out gay women and men is a political act that chips away at stereotypes and leads to increased understanding. In my travels, I’ve met Syrians, Iraqis, African villagers, Indians, Bedouins and more who (thought they) had never met a gay person before. I hope that our interaction helped them understand homosexuality just a little more. Most of the countries in which I met these people could have been boycotted for some reason or another.
Here’s hoping this law is overturned.