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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trade Counter Sales Assistant

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Driver / Warehouse Operative

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for on...

Recruitment Genius: Strategic Solutions Director

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Their digital community is one of the fastest ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works