If you care about gay rights, you might want to rethink your drink.
Gay rights groups are boycotting Russian vodka after the country cracked down on gay activists and pride parades, the BBC reports. In addition, new legislation makes it illegal to teach “non-traditional values” (ie. gay-friendly values) to children.
On June 29, a gay pride parade in St. Petersburg was attacked by thugs and several marchers were badly beaten. Police then rounded up the marchers (not the thugs) and arrested them. You can see photos from this and related events in this shocking photo essay from Buzzfeed.
The boycott started in the U.S. a few days ago and has since spread to other countries. Gay bars have pulled Russian vodka from their shelves and an online petition is calling for Manchester to “untwin” from its sister city St. Petersburg. Protesters have dumped vodka on the street in front of the Russian consulate in New York City and taken to Twitter with hashtags such as #dumpstoli and #dumprussianvodka.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia almost two decades ago but there’s been a severe backlash against the LGBT community in recent years.
One major vodka brand, Stolichnaya, has come out with a public statement in support of gay rights and says it shouldn’t be targeted by the boycott. They say that while they use Russian ingredients, they are in fact a Latvian company.
There’s an ongoing discussion in the LGBT about expanding the boycott to include other Russian products and also the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.