Ikea under fire for removing lesbian interview from magazine in Russian edition to ‘remain neutral’

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Swedish furniture giant Ikea has come under criticism for editing out an interview with a lesbian couple from its customer magazine in its Russian edition.

An Ikea spokeswoman confirmed to Aftonbladet newspaper that the company replaced the article with another because it clashes with a law passed in June which forbids the “promotion” of homosexuality to minors.

The interview between Clara and Kirsty, from Dorset, appears in the latest edition of Ikea Live magazine, which is distributed to Ikea Family customers, the store’s loyalty programme.

The Russian edition of the magazine, however, did not contain the article. The Russian law was the reason, as the company wanted to “remain neutral” in the debate around LGBT issues in the country.

Ikea spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said: “That’s the reason why Russia has another article.”

“We have two guiding principles in the communication we distribute from Ikea. The first is home interior design. The second is following the law.”

“We think that our operations in Russia can, in the long run, have a positive effect on society,” she continued.

The move has been criticised by gay rights activists in Sweden.

“I find it disappointing that Ikea has simply laid down flat,” Ulrika Westerlund, chair of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL), told The Local.

She said Ikea had “missed an opportunity” to challenge Russia on its law, which has been widely condemned ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

“No one is really sure what ‘propaganda’ is and if Ikea had left the article in, that could have served as a test case,” she said.