Gay bars around the world have joined forces to start a boycott of Russian vodka brands following President Vladimir Putin’s extreme crackdown on LGBT rights ahead of Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympic games.
Bars from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, NYC, San Diego, Chicago, Columbus, Vancouver, Toronto, Great Britain and Australia have stopped serving Russian vodka, particularly Stolichnaya, following Russia’s recent passage of a “gay propaganda” law and a law banning gay foreign couples from adopting Russian children. In addition, we reported of a horrific online scheme where Neo-Nazi groups create fake profiles on a popular Russian social network, VK.com, and lure in gay male teenagers in order to torture and humiliate them for being gay.
“To show our solidarity with Russian queers and their allies and to help to draw international attention to the persecution of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people and straight allies in Vladimir Putin’s increasingly fascistic Russia: dump Russian vodka,” wrote sex advice columinst Dan Savage.
Canada’s CTV reports that some popular gay-friendly bars in Vancouver’s West End, including the Fountainhead Pub, Oasis and Celebrities, have joined the boycott and have stopped serving Russian products.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson issued a statement Friday calling on Vladimir Putin to end human rights infractions against his people:
Finding themselves in a PR nightmare, Stoli Vodka updated their company’s Facebook header image with an LGBT-friendly message: “Stolichnaya Premium Vodka stands strong & proud with the global LGBT community against the actions & beliefs of the Russian government.”
The CEO of Stolichnaya Vodka also wrote an open letter to the LGBT community in order to distance themselves from the anti-gay and oppressive Russian regime.
The letter read:
I want to stress that Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Indeed, as a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry. Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be, a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community. We also thank the community for having adopted Stoli as their vodka of preference.
According to the Guardian, Russian Standard vodka is produced in Russia and is owned by the Russian oligarch Roustam Tariko.
The U.S. state department issued a travel warning for homosexuals in Russia. “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is widespread in Russia, as harassment, threats, and acts of violence have been targeted at LGBT individuals. Government officials have been known to make derogatory comments about LGBT persons,” the warning said.
The International Olympic Committee said Friday that athletes and visitors attending the 2014 Sochi Games in Russia will not be affected by anti-gay legislation passed last month: “The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”
AmericaBlog had this response to the IOC’s statement:
Maybe the IOC can issue pink triangles for its athletes to sew on their uniforms, and the Jewish athletes can wear Stars of David too (you never can be too careful), to make sure the Russian government, and the neo-Nazis they’re in cahoots with, know which minorities in Sochi are fair game to beat the crap out of.
Check out some of the Gay Bars joining the Boycott below: