In that vein I have one very strict rule regarding my own personal travel arrangements: I will not visit a country where homosexuality is illegal. It's partly out of a sense of personal safety and partly out of respect for those still suffering under such an illiberal Government.
So I have very mixed emotions about the following story:
A British man was arrested and beaten in Saudi Arabia by religious police when they discovered he was gay.
Stephen Comiskey, a 36-year-old nurse, was threatened with beheading and thrown in a cell, the Sun reports.
He says he was tricked by religious police who sent him a text message pretending to be a friend. Homosexuality is a capital offence in Saudi Arabia.
After his arrest, he was throttled until he signed a confession in Arabic and had his passport taken away.
He spent six months in the country, unsure whether he would be killed.
Mr Comiskey, who had been working at the King Fahad National Guard Hospital in Riyadh, was allowed to fly home this week after diplomatic talks.
One part of me, of course, feels a great deal of sympathy for him and righteous anger against the Saudi regime (although I tend to ALWAYS feel righteous anger towards the Saudi regime). The other part wonders: WHAT THE HELL WAS HE DOING THERE???
I know, it's awful of me to question his personal decisions but why, oh why, would someone go to a country in which other LGBT people are oppressed and murdered by the state?
What are your thoughts on visiting countries with backward and oppressive regimes (and not just with regards to LGBT rights but human rights in general)? Is it wrong of me to insist on people observing at least a basic moral code in terms of what countries it's "okay" to visit (note, I struggled to even convince myself a trip to California met my standards and Thailand was alright only during the democractic moments of the 00s)?
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist