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Debating about holiday venue based on the country's human rights?

(51 Posts)
Undertone Mon 20-Jan-14 17:52:16

So - my friend is keen on going to Morocco this spring.

I didn't set out to learn about it, but last week I read an article about where in the world it is still a criminal offence to be gay. Morocco is on that list. I feel very strongly about the issue. If I went there on holiday am I choosing to ignore the fact that people are oppressed in that country?

Of course the other side of that coin is that tourism brings all sorts of peoples and cultures to a country. A country is slightly more likely to bring their human rights in line with an acceptable international average over time if they're part of a busy tourism industry - maybe.

Am I over thinking this? Maybe it's just me.

gordyslovesheep Mon 20-Jan-14 17:53:28

no it's good to consider things like this - yanbu

Undertone Mon 20-Jan-14 17:59:04

Oh god... I don't want to stamp over our holiday plans (friend is excited) but the more I think about it, the less cool I am with it. It's the same rationale as with any other kind of boycott - but this impacts other people, not just me. That's why I'm wibbling.

Caitlin17 Mon 20-Jan-14 18:04:14

It's worth considering but if you're really strict about it you may be restricting yourself to Scandinavia, Iceland, The Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand.

I have talked my husband out of going to North Korea although he did go to Libya in Gadaffi's time (on his own).

I have to say I didn't think too much about this when I went to the USSR and East Germany as they then were, Albania, Cuba and China.

violator Mon 20-Jan-14 18:07:19

It's good that you know a little bit about where you're going! I had similar concerns before a trip to Egypt about 10 years ago. I went anyway.
I must say though I didn't do the Favela Tours in Rio de Janeiro, I was uneasy with the idea of observing poverty.

Undertone Mon 20-Jan-14 18:14:26

Maybe this is influencing my thinking: we're discussing this as a holiday where we do more than sit on a beach - you know - like there's an idea of doing something more culturally meaningful and getting to know a place. I think that whatever we experience of Morocco is still going to be to some extent a touristy facade, and I'd feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

bluesbaby Mon 20-Jan-14 18:15:48


Travel broadens the mind, it doesn't close it. Even if you don't agree with customs or attitudes it's always good to question why things might be that way.

Go to Morocco and learn lots about the culture - it doesn't mean you have to agree with the politics.

Do you agree with all the policies currently held by our current government? By your reasoning, you better find a country with a president or prime minister 100%in line with your own ideals.

Saying all that, I am largely playing devil's advocate here. Of course it's wise to do research before travelling, and I personally would avoid Somali and Dubai (as a woman).

bluesbaby Mon 20-Jan-14 18:18:57

But Morocco was an amazing experience for me and I had no reason to have any arguments about homosexuality with anyone while I was there.

MaidOfStars Mon 20-Jan-14 18:25:26

I think your second point is key. Isolation doesn't change the politics of a country, participation in a global community might.

ukatlast Mon 20-Jan-14 18:41:22

Bluesbaby - It is possible to restrict yourself to notional democracies and there is no need to agree 100% with policy just be sure that the people have the right to remove the Government without bloodshed every few years.

I have been to countries which have broken the 'notional democracy' rule but usually for a particular reason e.g. Egypt was to see the tombs etc, Nepal was to do a trek....I wouldn't do 'sun-seeking' in a dodgy place as it is unnecessary.

Alas the dodgy places tend to be the cheap places so if you really want to go (if you are gay you probably should not) just argue the exposure to liberal ideas argument.

As a woman I would avoid the Middle East as I really cannot stomach the subhuman position of women whether that be Saudi or Dubai. Anywhere where driving/drinking alcohol/kissing in public can land you in jail is to be avoided.

WooWooOwl Mon 20-Jan-14 18:44:23

We went to. Morocco last year, and enjoyed it a lot. I did consider the issues you are concerned about, but not enough to put me off going.

Anyway, we went and stayed in a lovely hotel, it was Club Med. I was shocked by three things. They held chicken races as entertainment for the guests, and the chickens looked terrible, and were treated terribly. The 'entertainers' were kicking them down the race route, and I was disgusted to see that the mostly French guests thought it was hilarious.

We went on a camel ride that took us outside the hotel through a little village, and the poverty we saw there was upsetting, especially for my then 9yo ds. It was an all inclusive with wonderful food, but knowing that so much food was being wasted just a few minutes away from a village where people were living in huts made of fabric with one tiny well is kind of off putting.

The other thing was when we went into the centre of Marrakech. Snakes with their teeth pulled out, skinny monkeys attached to chains. Then one woman literally forced me to have henna put on my hand by grabbing it and holding on tight, even though my child's hand was in my own. I decided to let her get on with it, but stopped her when her friend tried to do the same thing to my child. DH paid her the equivalent of about £7, and she shouted at him and hit his chest as she didn't think that was enough.

I'm a confident traveller and am well used to dealing with the way people try to sell things to you in other Middle Eastern countries, but I wouldn't go back there, especially with my children.

manicinsomniac Mon 20-Jan-14 18:45:53

well, YANBU if you feel really strongly that you are doing the right thing. It's always good to go with your beliefs, especially if they inconvenience you as it shows you how genuine your feelings are.

But personally, I wouldn't limit my travel options based on official or unofficial views of people in that country. It's the places I want to see and the developed world alone doesn't interest me all that much.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Mon 20-Jan-14 18:50:47

Comparing countries which, for example, execute gay people, to countries which only permit them to have civil partnerships, not full marriage, is incredibly fucking stupid. It's pointless, juvenile whataboutery.

Yeah, yeah, if you object to visiting a country which prevents women driving or executes journalists you should never visit anywhere. What nonsense. Lazy bullshit from people who can't be arsed having principles.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. If you don't agree with a country's policies, you are perfectly right not to go there. Boycotts are a powerful way to object.

But these threads are always massively depressing as people queue up to insist there's nothing wrong with undemocratic shitholes and it's "judgemental" or hypocritical to say there is. Same people would have been queuing up to holiday in apartheid South Africa or taken a job in the Jim Crow South if the price was right.

Fannydabbydozey Mon 20-Jan-14 19:03:40

One of my friends has a house in Fez. He bought it because it is, ahem, VERY friendly for him to be there. He's gay and lives there half the year. Morocco has always had a bit of a reputation with gay men...

CoffeeTea103 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:17:40

Yabu and precious. So do you agree with everything in this country?

Undertone Mon 20-Jan-14 19:58:43

Nah I don't agree with everything in this country. But then we don't imprison people for being gay. It's not like I'm disagreeing with their council tax system. It's a bit more serious...

But I've just realised I wouldn't blame someone rethinking coming to this country on holiday because we have systematic chauvinism embedded in our political parties, going by the latest lib dem shenanigans...

I dunno it's the criminality of it that bugs me.

Latara Mon 20-Jan-14 20:03:41

One of my colleagues recently toured Myanmar (Burma) as a guest of the regime. I've yet to ask her if she knows about the plight of the Rohingya people who are being massacred there.

harticus Mon 20-Jan-14 20:13:06


And I think your dilemma is what most people feel if they have half a brain and a social conscience.

It is entirely up to you to decide whether to visit or not - but either way join Amnesty International if you genuinely care and put your concerns into active protest.

paxtecum Mon 20-Jan-14 20:49:25

I went to Morocco a 20 - 25 years ago ago and saw quite a few male couples holding hands walking along the sea front.
I had read that young Moroccan men often had same sex relationships because woman wouldn't have sex outside of marriage.
But it seems times have changed.

Goldenbear Mon 20-Jan-14 20:53:04

YANBU and this is why I refuse to go and live in Dubai with my DP who suggested he could get a job there. I read about a woman who had been arrested in Dubai for being raped!

Undertone Mon 20-Jan-14 21:07:12

Getting involved with Amnesty is a good shout.

bluesbaby Mon 20-Jan-14 21:28:23

I've seen had some amazing experiences in the middle east and I would never rule out travelling because of politics.

I'll point out now that I am half from, and still have family in, the middle east. Outside tourist traps meeting family and hospitable strangers are one of the delights of travelling.

We met some great people in Morocco. I've met literally hundreds of Iranians that didn't agree with Raf*san*jani or any of the presidents since.

You're closing yourself off to a lot of the world.

lastnightIwenttoManderley Mon 20-Jan-14 21:59:31

Stayed in a gorgeous Riad in central Marrakech. Owned and run by the most overtly gay Italian I have ever come across. Best trip we've had for a while. Knew being gay was frowned upon but hadn't realised was illegal?

ContinentalKat Mon 20-Jan-14 22:21:44

That's a really tough one, watching with interest as I am firmly sitting on the fence on this one.

Our current family stance is to only visit "western democracies", BUT I would love to go to certain places in order to see what it is like to live in a different political system or with a very different set of beliefs.

When I was a child we used to visit East Germany often, to see family. We were totally against everything the regime stood for and aware that our visits and western money actually helped to keep it going. On the other hand, our visits made a real emotional and material difference to our relatives.

yonisareforever Mon 20-Jan-14 22:27:44

yes I have stayed in Gay riad in marrakech too, very openly gay couple owned it.

it maybe something in law but thats not acted upon,

I feel like this about Turkey I will never forget Sarah, Duchess of...going to that orphanage with caged and chained children, starved and treated like animals, and the doctor who put his hand down the girls pants to see if she was wet.

Children rocking in the corridor, children unable to walk as they had been chained so long...

I could not go to Turkey knowing somewhere there would be children, disabled, and chained. I am sure other countries do it, but I saw it there.

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