No equal rights, no vodka nights: gay clubs boycott Russian imports

 

Popular British gay bars and nightclubs have joined a global boycott of Russian vodka brands following allegations of human rights abuses by Vladimir Putin’s government.

Several popular gay venues in London and Manchester – including those run by the influential G-A-Y Group, which operates the world-famous Heaven nightclub – have pledged not to stock Russian vodka, following the lead of dozens of gay bars in the US and Canada.

The boycott comes in the wake of an increasingly aggressive crackdown on gay rights in Russia, including a controversial law signed last month by President Putin that banned the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to children. In June, all 60 people who took part in the St Petersburg gay pride march were arrested, and many claimed to have been “badly beaten”. Russia’s parliament has also voted for a bill that bans adoption of children by foreign same-sex couples.

The worldwide boycott was launched by the US writer and activist Dan Savage, who urged bars to “dump Russian vodka” to “show solidarity with Russian queers and their allies”. Stolichnaya and Russian Standard are the brands being targeted in Britain by prominent gay club and bar operators.

Jeremy Joseph, the co-founder and owner of the G-A-Y Group, confirmed it was boycotting the brands and urged supermarkets including Tesco and Sainsbury’s to do the same. “Gay venues banning Russian vodka isn’t just about trying to hit the Russian economy, but it’s a way of showing solidarity and that the lesbian and gay community in Russia are on our minds,” he said.

Gary Henshaw, who runs London’s Ku Bar, which has also joined the boycott, said he had visited Moscow in March last year during the city’s pride celebrations. He told The Independent: “I went looking for the planned and banned gay pride march. I failed to find it. It was broken up practically before it started and had very few attendees.

“I was quite angry at the time. Now with hindsight I realise that gay Russians live in fear of the authorities, and those authorities have hardened their resolve to criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Other venues in the capital that have joined the boycott include Soho’s Manbar and The Shadow Lounge.

A spokesman for Britain’s largest gay rights campaign group Stonewall said: “We are disturbed by the ongoing human rights abuses in Russia. We are talking with activists on the ground about the best way to respond before taking any action.”

One of the two brands targeted by the boycott has already launched a PR campaign to distance itself from the Russian government’s stance on gay rights. In an open letter to members of the LGBT community in the UK, Val Mendeleev, the chief executive officer of the SPI Group, which owns Stolichnaya, said that the vodka, produced by the state in Soviet times and a reported favourite of Boris Yeltsin, is produced by the SPI Group in Latvia, albeit using Russian ingredients.

“Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Stolichnaya vodka has always been, and continues to be, a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community,” he said.

Russian Standard vodka is still produced in Russia and owned by the Russian oligarch Roustam Tariko. The company, which sells 2.9 million cases a year, has declined to comment.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week