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Chicago gay bars boycott Russian vodkas
Two Chicago bars have joined calls for a boycott of Stoli vodka in protest of a recent string of oppressive anti-gay laws passed in Russia. In a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon, Boystown bar Sidetrack announced it will no longer sell Stoli or any other Russian products:
Tonight you might notice that Sidetrack has removed Stolichnaya Vodka from our shelves. Sidetrack cannot support a brand so associated with Russia at a time when Russia is implementing (against strong world criticism) it’s anti-gay law that bans gay “propaganda”. The Stoli story is complicated by decades of lawsuits whereby the actual Government of Russia has laid claim to the Stolichnaya brand name. Very soon the Russian government itself, which bans positive portrayals of LGBT people, may be the beneficiary of the goodwill earned by Stoli’s distributors and bars over the years.
Andersoneville’s The Call Bar soon followed suit, announcing they would, “sell only non-Russian vodkas.”
The moves come in response to It Gets Better founder and prominent LGBT activist Dan Savage’s call for boycotts of Stoli vodka after a recent law passed in Russia allow police to arrest foreign-born nationals suspected of being homosexual, lesbian or “pro-gay.” The law has also drawn international attention ahead of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia. Russian law already prohibits “gay propaganda.” The Associated Press has more:
The federal law imposes hefty fines for providing information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors or holding gay pride rallies. Those breaking the law will be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($156) for an individual and up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) for a company, including media organizations.
Russian riot police guard gay rights activists who were beaten by anti-gay protesters in St. Petersburg on June 29. | Dmitry Lovetsky~AP Photo