US: Dan Savage calls for a boycott of Russian vodka over ‘gay propaganda’ controversy

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In an article posted online, gay activist and founder of the ‘It Gets Better Project’ Dan Savage has called for buyers to boycott Russian vodka in an effort to oppose Russia’s controversial anti-gay legislation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the anti-”propaganda” bill into law last month, issuing a nationwide ban of the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to minors.

Writing to the Slog blog, Dan Savage said that recent petitions to boycott the Russian Winter Olympics have been admirable, but there is also more immediate action to be taken in order to combat “escalating” attacks against gay equality in Russia.

He said: “Boycott or no boycott there 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.”

Commenting on Russia’s controversial legislation, Savage said: “These anti-gay laws come after years of escalating attacks on gay pride events and LGBT people in Moscow and St. Petersburg.”

He added: “Moscow’s city government has banned pride parades for 100 years; in St. Petersburg a small group of LGBT-rights demonstrators was attacked by a violent mob earlier this summer. These attacks are not new and they’re getting worse.”

As part of his campaign, Savage also compiled a list of US-sold vodkas to boycott. These included: “Dovgan, Gold Symphony, Standart, Hrenovuha, Kauffman , Kubanskaya, Moskovskaya, Narodnaya, Pyatizvyozdnaya, Putinka, Rodnik, Ruskova, Russian Standard, Shustov, Starka, Stolnaya, Youri Dolgoruki. The two best known Russian vodkas? Russian Standard and Stolichnaya.”

He said: “If you drink a Russian Vodka like Stoli, Russian Standard, or any of the other brands listed above, switch to another brand from another country, or even a local brand from a local distillery.”

Savage also made sure to point out that Stoli is in fact a Russian owned company, despite what its wikipedia page suggests.

“Stoli is the iconic Russian Vodka and it’s returning to Russian ownership in 2014. Other brands like Russian Standard should also be boycotted.

“Do not drink Russian vodka. Do not buy Russian vodka. Ask your bartender at your favorite bar—gay or otherwise—to DUMP STOLI and DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA.”

Some US companies have already joined the boycott. The Windy City Times reports that Sidetrack, one of Chicago’s biggest gay bars, has stopped serving Stoli and other Russian vodkas.

Another bar in Chicago, The Call, has joined the boycott as well.

Earlier this week, responding to human rights groups concerning the Winter Olympic games to be held at Russia, the International Olympic Committee released a statement calling for the acceptance of all athletes in the wake of the recently passed anti-gay legislation.

The statement was released in the face of concern from human rights groups that LGBT people will not be safe in Russia for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. 

Last week, speaking exclusively to PinkNews, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg urged Russia to protect the rights of LGBT citizens following concerns about gay athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Winter Olympics.