Despite international media scrutiny and criticism from foreign heads of state and hundreds of thousands of activists around the world, Russian officials won’t back down from the country’s controversial law banning gay “propaganda” — prompting calls for boycotts of everything from the 2014 Winter Olympics to vodkas associated with Russia.
Passed unanimously by Parliament and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 30, the law is aimed at protecting minors from “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” and is so vague critics fear it could criminalize simply being openly gay or expressing any support for LGBT equality.
The propaganda law, part of a rising tide of homophobia in Russia (see sidebar, “Russia’s attack on LGBT rights”), includes a clause specifically related to foreigners, who could face fines, 15 days of detainment and deportation. The clause raises questions about the impact on thousands of foreign athletes, staffers, media and fans expected to attend the upcoming Olympics, set for Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.
In June, when Russia’s government passed an anti-gay “propaganda” bill that was quickly signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, LGBT Americans reacted with fury.
Many jumped to action by organizing petitions to boycott or move the Olympics. Dan Savage, gay activist and columnist for the Seattle Stranger, urged his readers and others to boycott one of Russia’s leading exports — vodka, specifically Stolichnaya vodka.
“[T]here is something we can do right here, right now, in Seattle and other US cities 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 Putin’s increasingly fascistic Russia: DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA,” Savage wrote in his July 24 column.
Outspoken LGBT rights ally John Lewis is the only member of Congress from Georgia to sign a letter calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure the safety of LGBT Americans attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"We are writing to you regarding the troubling implications of a recently-enacted Russian law criminalizing actions or statements deemed to be in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community," states the letter, led by U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and signed by 83 members of Congress including Lewis (D-Ga.).
To boycott, or not to boycott, that is the question.
All Out, a global gay rights group launched in 2010, and Athlete Ally, a U.S.-based organization that promotes LGBT inclusion in sports, released a joint statement today, calling on a political solution rather than a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the country's anti-gay agenda.
A flurry of online petitions calling for a complete boycott of the games, its corporate sponsors and even NBC have cropped up recently. Some gay bars have even started their own boycott of Russian vodka.
But All Out Executive Director Andre Banks said today that a boycott of the games to protest Russia's anti-gay laws was not the most prudent way to send a message to Russian politicians.
LGBT alumni and students at Atlanta’s Emory University won’t back down from their call to kick Chick-fil-A out of campus dining, despite a national gay activist’s revelation that he has formed a friendship with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy.
Shane Windmeyer, executive director of national group Campus Pride, drew headlines with his Jan. 28 column posted on Huffington Post, “Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A.”
Windmeyer wrote that “after months of personal phone calls, text messages and in-person meetings,” including attending the Chick-fil-A bowl with Cathy on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta, he now considers Cathy a friend.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has organized a Chick-fil-A “buy-cott” for Wednesday, Aug.1 after he became “incensed at the vitriolic assaults” on the Atlanta-based fast food chain in the wake of company COO Dan Cathy's comments on same-sex marriage.
Cathy, son of the company's founder Truett Cathy, told the Baptist Press in a recent interview that the company was “guilty as charged” in its opposition to same-sex marriages.
“We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy is quoted as saying. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
Todd Koch, Cooper Smith and the North Texas couple's children were on a local Dallas news program yesterday to talk about their family's ad in the June catalog for clothing retailer JC Penney.
The pro-gay Father's Day ad renewed calls for boycott from conservative Christian group One Million Moms, who also organized an unsuccessful boycott after the retailer hired out funny woman Ellen DeGeneres to be a spokesperson earlier this year.
Some have wondered if OMM is not a JC Penney conspiracy, meant to drive up sales. Well, maybe just Keanu Reeves.
Check out the segment below. Spoiler warning, it's seriously cute:
In an interview with Billboard magazine, Lady Gaga says an exclusive edition release of "Born This Way" with Target was made only with the promise the retailer would donate to and align itself with pro-LGBT causes.
Target made a $150,000 donation to a political action committee that supported GOP candidate Tom Emmer, who opposes gay marriage, when he ran for governor of Minnesota last year. Emmer lost.
But Lady Gaga's decision to release the exclusive edition of "Born This Way" — who some have deemed the next "gay anthem" —raised the eyebrows of many of her more social justice activist Little Monsters.