Rémy Bonny (23) studies political sciences at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Next year he will attend the Global Campus of Human Rights of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC) in Venice, Italy.
Bonny specialises in LGBTQ politics in post-Soviet Republics and Central Eastern Europe. He’s a fan of travelling to these countries and wants you to to the same.
Let’s face it: we might fantasise about hot guys in Prague – blame old school gay porn – but most post-communist countries have a homophobic reputation. As LGBTQ travellers, it’s always a good idea to check the LGBTQ situation for your destination.
I dedicated a previous blog post on this very topic. I also talked with experienced travellers Thierry Hanan Scheers and Claus Gurumeta about this topic.
For his studies and for fun, Bonny has travelled to quite a few post-communist countries. He lived in Poland for six months, where he visited most major cities. He also travelled to Lithuania, Ukraine, Armenia, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary and the Czech Republic (or Czechia as the country is trying to implement in English).
Bonny is adamant you can safely hold hands as a same-sex couple in cities such as Prague, Budapest or Warsaw. “I even recommend it. You might get an applause.”
It is different though in other post-Soviets area. Russia and Ukraine are less welcoming, but even there the gay scene is thriving, albeit more underground. There are plenty of clubs in Moscow and Kiev.
The twenty-something is confident the visibility of LGBTQs is good for the advancement of LGBTQ’s human rights. “Don’t be afraid to be who you are talk to people. Show you exist.”
Know what you do
Obviously one has to be careful. “Why are you going to these destinations? When I go as I private person, I’m not extra careful. But when I go to for instance Armenia I am wary of criticism and threats.”
Either way, Bonny encourages you to go to Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. “Not only are the countries beautiful and interesting, but gay life is blossoming. Gay prides are experiencing a positive vibe and the gay party scene is vibrant.”
Maybe not everywhere though. But a little research is always necessary.
You can read an interview with Rémy about the evolution on LGBTQ issues in post-communist countries on Be Out.
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