Ikea faces boycott after it removes lesbian couple from Russian magazine to comply with Putin laws

The furniture giant's in-house magazine dropped an interview with a Dorset-based couple

Ikea is facing a boycott threat after removing a British lesbian couple from the Russian edition of its monthly magazine to avoid falling foul of the country’s gay “propaganda” laws.

The December edition of the furniture giant’s magazine, which is distributed across the world, features an interview with Clara and Kirsty, a Dorset-based lesbian couple, talking about their family life and their Ikea-filled interiors.

However the lengthy feature has been spiked from the Russian edition of “Ikea Family Live” in case it failed to comply with Russian’s controversial new law banning “homosexual propaganda”. It has been replaced with an article about a single Chinese designer named Chao.

Russia is Ikea's fifth best-selling country, representing six per cent of overall sales. Hugely popular with middle-class Russians, the company operates 14 stores and boasts 11,000 employees in the country.

The interview in the magazine, distributed across Europe to customers enrolled in the firm’s Ikea Family loyalty scheme, featured Kirsty saying: “We’re two mums bringing up our baby boy in Clara's loft. We’re not your average family in your average home, but if my nan can raise two sons in a tiny caravan, we can make it work in our little loft.”

An Ikea spokeswoman confirmed that the Russian law, which bans the dissemination of “homosexual propaganda among minors”, was the cause.

“That’s the reason why Russia has another article,” she said. “We have two guiding principles in the communication we distribute from Ikea. The first is home interior design. The second is following the law.”

The Ikea spokesman said that the decision was taken in an effort to “remain neutral”. She added: “We think our operations in Russia can, in the long run have a positive effect on society.”

Ikea was accused of cowardice by gay rights activists in Sweden, the retailer’s founding country. Ulrika Westerlund, chair of the Swedish Federation for lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights said: “I find it disappointing that Ikea has simply laid down flat. No one is really sure what ‘propaganda’ is and if Ikea had left the article in, that could have served as a test case.”

In1994, Ikea became the first company in the world to feature a gay couple in a mainstream television commercial. But the company, once a symbol of progressive Scandinavian values, has recently appeared to subjugate its social conscience to protect commercial operations.

Last September, Ikea deleted a photo from its Russian corporate web page showing four young people in balaclavas. The photo could have been seen as a gesture of support for the jailed members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot.

The following month Ikea angered equal rights campaigners when it digitally removed women from versions of its catalogue distributed in the Saudi Arabian market, due to “cultural sensitivities”. Ikea apologised when critics said the decision clashed with the Swedish brand’s purported commitment to equality.

Russian campaigners say the country’s anti-gay laws have contributed to a climate of increased homophobia, despite President Vladimir Putin claiming that they should not be used to persecute homosexuals.

The lesbian exclusion prompted a backlash by Ikea’s international customers, who threatened to boycott the brand. A Tweeter called Maria wrote: “Yo #ikea, don't make me boycott you bc you bow to Russia's homophobic politics.”

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London