Protests growing against Russian anti-gay laws

Boycott of Russian products spreading

Backlash against Russia’s anti-gay law is growing around the world as journalists and politicians condemn the repression of gay people in Russia.

Another six gay rights activists were arrested and then released on July 24 at a protest in Moscow, reports Rianovosti. They have been charged with “promoting non-traditional sexual relations.”

Meanwhile, in response to a collection of photos published by Buzzfeed showing egregious violence against Russian gay people, Dan Savage has called for a worldwide boycott on Russian Vodka.

Chicago gay bar Sidetrack has pulled all Russian products from their shelves.

In Vancouver, the Fountainhead Pub in the gay village has also decided to stop serving Russian vodka and other products and Toronto’s Wayla Bar announced July 25 that it is no longer selling Russian vodka or brandy.

“We are doing this to make a small but worthwhile stand. Our thoughts are with the GLBT community in Russia. We hope that the Russian government sees its error and swiftly corrects its decision,” staff at the Fountainhead say.

Vancouver gay party promoters Big Roger Events have likewise decided to boycott Russian products. “Our community has the power to take a stand and make a difference. Big Roger Events is proud to say that at our request our Pride venues will not be serving any Russian-made products from their bars on the nights of our parties to demonstrate support for our Russian comrades.”

On July 24, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin sent a letter to NBC president Stephen Burke asking him to draw attention to Russia’s oppression of gay people during the Olympics. NBC has exclusive rights in the US to coverage of the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

The New York Post also expressed concern that tourists or athletes could be arrested for being gay at Sochi, and in Britain, the Guardian called the Russian lawsstaggering in their disregard for the founding principles of democracy.”


Blake Skjellerup, a gay speed skater from New Zealand, told Xtra this week that despite the threat of arrest he will be wearing a rainbow pin to the Sochi Olympic games in 2014.

Last weekend, the New York Times also published a blistering op-ed from American actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein in which he called for the International Olympic Committee to demand a retraction of anti-gay laws under threat of boycott.

Niko Bell

Niko Bell is a writer, editor and translator from Vancouver. He writes about sexual health, science, food and language.

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