Cosmetics chain Lush stands up for gay rights in run up to Sochi Winter Olympics

As the Sochi games approach, Lush stores around the world will be running a Valentine’s campaign in defence of equal love

More than 700 cosmetics shops in 40 countries around the world will be promoting gay rights in the run-up the Winter Olympics. But, strikingly, Russian stores will not.

In its Valentine’s campaign, to be launched tomorrow, Lush’s stores will display signs proclaiming “We believe in Love”. Staff will also encourage customers to paint pink triangles on their bodies as a symbol of support for equal love. Yet the campaign, a response to Russia’s anti-gay legislation, would be at risk of violating the country’s “homosexual propaganda” law if the signs appeared in any of the retailer’s 63 Russian shops.

President Putin’s laws ban the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” among minors, and is purposefully broad. In effect it means teachers cannot tell their students that gay and straight relationships are equal; parents cannot tell their children being LGBT is normal; and people cannot distribute material promoting gay rights.

Lush often uses its front windows to campaign against social injustice and will also be organising an LGBTQ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) “carnival” to be held outside the Russian embassy in London on Valentine’s Day. Gay and lesbian groups in Russia have reported a rise in homophobic violence since anti-gay laws were passed last year – with reports of growing vigilante groups hunting LGBTQ people out on the ground and online.

“Valentine’s Day is the perfect to time to stand up [for] everyone’s right for love. No country, company, or individual can stop love; all they can do is punish people for that love,” said Tamsin Omond, head of Lush campaigns. “To do so – to forbid or criminalise love – is unnatural and cruel, so I am proud that we are standing in solidarity with LGBTQ people and campaigning for equal love.”

The gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told The Independent on Sunday that Lush’s “proactive stand” contrasts “with the silence and inaction of Winter Olympics sponsors like Coca Cola, McDonald’s and Visa. They have shown great cowardice by refusing to make any public statement criticising Russia’s anti-gay laws and the escalating levels of homophobic violence in Russia.”

Pressure on President Putin to drop the laws is mounting. Last week, Elton John wrote on his website that the legislation is “proving deeply dangerous to the LGBT community”. He added that his last trip to Russia, a month ago, had “reinforced all the media stories that have been circling since the propaganda bill became federal law: that vicious homophobia has been legitimised… and given extremists the cover to abuse people’s basic human rights”.

Richard Lane, from the gay rights campaign group Stonewall, welcomed Lush’s campaign, but said “solidarity and support” for LGBT activists must be kept up once the Olympics ends.

Mr Lane added that Russian LGBT activists “do not support cancelling, withdrawing [or] boycotting the Games in any way. They are very keen for people to visit the country, particularly political figures, and raise their concerns about it.”

He added: “We would certainly hope that the IOC [International Olympic Committee] is raising their concerns about homophobia in the country [and] we would certainly hope that the British government is raising their concerns about it.”

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
i100
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Sport
footballBut the Newcastle United midfielder's news has 'left his mistress furious'
Extras
indybest
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style