Love is Essential: Protesting for Equality

Love is Essential: Protesting for Equality
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Unmarried Bi-national Couples Want Equality in the Coronavirus

It’s July 2020 and the Coronavirus is still taking its toll. While many countries have gotten the virus under control and are now starting to reopen shops and public places, borders remain closed for couples trying to reunite. 

Many have been waiting eagerly to hear that countries are re-opening for other nationalities but the news from July 1st was devastating. The EU Commission released its list of 14 countries allowed to enter the zone, but that left the US and hundreds of other countries out of that sweet reunion.

There’s Hypocrisy in the Travel Ban

So many pandemic-crossed lovers are furious because the media is releasing photos of people lounging at the beaches, returning to cafes, and many are not even wearing masks at this point. 

If you’ve read any of our stories submitted by long-distance relationship couples around the world, most of us haven’t seen each other since March or even earlier. Lots of couples, like Cheryl and Cyril, are worried they won’t meet up at all this year! 

Being separated from your spouse or partner for that long is no joke. It can be devastating. When you’re in the midst of a crisis, you want and NEED your partner more than ever. Not having them with you makes those times so much harder. 

You may have seen this hashtag: #lovewins. In fact, we even use it in our Instagram bio. Couples are not sitting back and quietly letting politicians bypass their long separation from their loved ones. They’re doing something about it.

Love Is Not Tourism

The action all began with Love Is Not Tourism, a Facebook group – and now official website – created for those who want to take action to see their loved ones. (The woman who started it wants to stay anonymous so we’ll call her Alice.) I heard about the group from my boyfriend Filip, who joined a week or so before me.

The story is close to our hearts because we haven’t seen each other since January. Filip’s trip to visit me in April was canceled when the borders closed, and then we had to wait. That’s the reason we started Corona Loves Stories in the first place. Currently, the Serbian border is open but I’ve had 5 airlines cancel my flights so far. 

So we joined the movement. It all started by tweeting officials in charge of European countries and the EU Commission. Alice and other members used the hashtags #loveisnottourism, #loveisessential, and #liftthetravelban. Others joined in, asking politicians to empathize and take action on their behalf. 

When things got a little more organized, they started doing online protests. There are now active petitions for over 16 countries, to let unmarried loved ones in.

The protests stay afloat by sheer numbers of people re-tweeting and reposting these requests. Now, hundreds of couples are sharing their stories on Twitter and Instagram, using these hashtags to put pressure on decision-makers.

Coffee mug for sale in the Corona Love Stories shop

Changes Are Happening

Positive Results That Prove Love Is Essential

The first notorious official to respond was the Swedish politician and EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Yiva Johanssen. She has given attention to tweets a few times, supporting the movement.

Because of her statement and all the support it got online, several Members of the European Parliament (MEP) have written a letter to the German Minister of Interior Horst Seehofer, urging him to consider the case of bi-national couples. 

The letter was signed on July 7, 2020. Two of those politicians were Andreas Scheider, an Austrian politician, and Erick Marquardt (German MEP), who posted a copy of that letter on Twitter.

The results of that letter are still to be determined, but there is VERY recent news that both Sweden and Austria have responded to the protest and are allowing non-married partners to enter.

Meanwhile, Couples Have Creative Solutions

Realizing that this protest may take some time, many couples have decided to forget about their home countries for the time being. Instead, they’re meeting up in a third country where they can both visit. 

For such a wide range of diversity in the Love Is Not Tourism group, it’s hard to say who is allowed in which country right now. But they’re doing their research! Canadian-American couples have met up in Mexico. Americans are allowed to enter Serbia and Croatia now, so couples have posted selfies in Belgrade, Serbia, celebrating reunions. 

While it’s great that couples are finally seeing each other after months in lockdown, remember that countries are closing their borders with very little notice. You don’t want to get stuck in a country where your visa could run out. 

Not only that, Alice and other organizers remind everyone that this problem is global, not just individual. So they ask that everyone keep urging the politicians and continue helping everyone else in a similar situation. 

Countries Allowing Foreigners Outside of the EU’s Approved List

Here are a few countries, that I know of, who are allowing visitors.

Denmark

As the first country that has already made it legally possible for non-married partners to enter, Denmark is an example used by all the petitioners. There’s even a hashtag for that too: #DoItLikeDenmark

They use a pretty rigorous system to make couples vouch for the legitimacy of their relationship, but that’s a small sacrifice to make for the privilege of being with your loved one these days. 

Here’s a small portion of the form to be filled out and signed by both partners in the relationship:

Image adapted from politi.dk

Slovakia

As of July 6, Slovakia has added several countries to its list of accepted countries. Other countries are allowed, as long as they quarantine for 14 days and test negative for COVID-19.

Serbia

For now, Serbia is fully open, allowing non-residents to enter freely.

Mexico

They’re one of the least restrictive countries on the map right now, but be careful about planning a trip here. They quickly closed a part of the border right before the 4th of July to prevent Americans from surging down to spend their holiday there.

Since their president has been somewhat indecisive about his measures, they have the potential to close at any time.

Where to Find Information About Which Borders Are Open

Here are some websites that consistently provide updated information about travel. 

The IATA Travel Centre

The European Union Commission

Schengen Visa Info 

Be sure to join Facebook groups with lots of members and lots of activity. They are full of people from all over the world who can share local news and updated information with the group. Couples Separated by Trave Bans is a good option.

What You Can Do to Help the Movement

If you’re also tired of waiting to find out when you’ll see your partner again, here are some action steps you can take to help out the protest. 

Join the Love Is Tourism Facebook group to stay up-to-date on the latest news, petitions, and other online events. 

Start posting your requests on Twitter! Find and follow these hashtags:

#LoveIsNotTourism

#LoveIsEssential

#LiftTheTravelBan

Repost the tweets of others, making sure to include the handles of officials who need to hear it. Members from the group put together a detailed document with handles and names of politicians from many countries (including South American officials). They also have lots of advice for ways to help out. 

In your requests, focus on safety and specific demands. Remind the officials that you’re happy to self-isolate, test for COVID, and take whatever measures are necessary. 

Ask for specific procedures: “Make exemptions to national travel restrictions for unmarried partners for the purpose of reuniting families.”

Share your story. Share it on Twitter and submit it to us. We’ll make sure it’s available to all our readers for community and advice.

Offer Support and Ask for Help If You Need It

I’ve received submissions from a lot of couples contributing their stories and people are experiencing a lot of stress. It’s not only because they’re separated from each other, but lots of individuals are going through other serious struggles in their lives. 

People in our Corona Love Stories community have had to put their studies on hold. They deal with anxiety and panic attacks, loss of work and homelessness, and many more issues. If you’re one of these people please reach out to us or other members of these communities. We can find resources and suggestions to ease your troubles.

Corona Love Stories Shop

2 comments

  1. Michael says:

    A little over two years ago I was in southern Siberia when I met a beautiful woman from Spain who was also visiting the area. We have been a couple ever since. I have flown to Spain 4 times for extended visits and we met twice in Mexico. I was supposed to fly to Spain in mid March and again in June for her birthday but it didn’t happen due to travel bans. We are now considering meeting in London. I will have to quarantine but she won’t.

    • Mia Kercher says:

      Wow, I’m so sorry that you missed both of those trips! It’s hard to deal with that disappointment. But it sounds like you two have already been through a lot and you’re going to make it through this! Which country are you from?

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