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Stoli boycott launch at Russian Consulate over antigay violence
by Michael Petrelis
Monday Jun 4th, 2007 4:53 PM
Gays Launch Solidarity Stoli Boycott with Russian LGBT Over Violence at Moscow Pride
New York, NY and San Francisco, CA) - Gay equality advocates in two American cities upset over the denial of full respect for the human rights of LGBT people in Russia, and the bloody confrontation on May 27 in Moscow as gays attempted to peacefully march, today announced they are launching a boycott of Stolichnaya vodka.

Vigils will be held at two Russian consulates, where gays will pour Stolichnaya vodka in the gutter.
The date for launching the Stoli boycott and vigils is Tuesday, June 5.

Details & Information:

New York Vigil
Contact: Brendan Fay
Phone: 718-721-2780
Email: brendan [at] stpatsforall.com

What: Begin Stoli boycott and dump vodka down the sewer
Where: Russian Consulate, 9 E. 91st Street
Time: Noon to 1:00 pm

San Francisco Vigil
Contacts: Pastor Robert Goldstein
Phone: 415-516-5878
Email: revrgoldstein [at] sbcglobal.net

Michael Petrelis
Phone: 415-621-6267
Email: mpetrelis [at] aol.com

What: Begin Stoli boycott and dump vodka down the sewer
Where: Russian Consulate, 2790 Green Street
Time: 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Background:

For two years lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Russia have been violently thwarted in their efforts to hold Gay Pride events and petition their government for full recognition of their human rights. This year, LGBT people from Russia and Europe tried to hold a peaceful march, but were instead violently attacked by thugs, as policy stood idly by. Several gays were punched and bashed in the face, causing blood to spill and such bodily harm they were rushed to hospitals. Other LGBT people were arrested while peaceably assembling.

Follow Up Action:

All American gay bars will be asked to not serve Stoli vodka until the Russian government acknowledges the human rights of its LGBT citizens, and Russian gays are guaranteed the right organize, assemble in the streets and live free of government harassment.

Quotes:

From Nikolai Aleseyeev, Moscow Pride March organizer.
"We are thankful for the support of gay Americans mobilizing on our behalf to do what we can't - stage vigils at Russian government offices. Please don't forget about your brothers and sisters beyond the United States, and our difficult struggle for equality."

From Brendan Fay, New York organizer.
"We denounce the brutal and bloody assault on the peaceful gay participants and human rights activists at Moscow Pride. Solidarity across international borders is top priority for the global gay community. We will not rest until the human rights of gay Russians are respected including the right to assemble free of hate and violence."

From Gilbert Baker, Rainbow Flag creator:
"I totally endorse the Stoli boycott and it is my great honor to design the boycott, using our Rainbow Flag to send a message of hope and tolerance to Russian gays."

From Pastor Robert Goldstein, San Francisco organizer.
"We would welcome the Russian government's affirmation of its LGBT citizens and a genuine commitment to respect their human rights. I am proud to stand in solidarity with LGBT Russians as they being their journey to equality and fairness."

From Michael Petrelis, San Francisco organizer.
"I beg my fellow gay and lesbian Americans to refrain from buying Stoli vodka, as just one way to express solidarity with gays in Moscow. This Pride season, please avoid ordering Stoli."

Recommended reading:

The 2006 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report's section on Russia. This is a pertinent excerpt related to gays in Russia.


While homosexuality is not illegal, the gay community continued to suffer societal stigma and discrimination. Medical practitioners reportedly continued to limit or refuse their access to health services due to intolerance and prejudice. According to recent studies, male homosexuals were often refused work due to their sexuality. Openly gay men were targets for skinhead aggression, which was often met with law enforcement indifference.
In May gay rights activists hosted a small international conference in Moscow on combating homophobia; however, the mayor of Moscow and the courts denied their applications to hold a gay pride parade. According to Human Rights Watch, on May 27, several dozen Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender protestors, accompanied by Russian and foreign supporters, including members of the European and German parliaments, sought to hold two successive protest rallies, one to lay flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall, and the second a vigil at city hall in support of the freedoms of assembly and expression.

Organizers decided to hold these events after a court upheld Mayor Yuriy Luzkhov's ban on a march they planned for that day. At both events hundreds of antigay protesters, including skinheads and nationalists attacked the participants, beating and kicking many, while throwing projectiles and chanting homophobic slogans.
Police intervened only belatedly, failing to protect demonstrators from violence; observers noted that police inaction aggravated the violence.
In protest of a large lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender "open party" held in Moscow on April 30, several hundred protestors gathered outside a night club, shouting threats and throwing bottles, rocks, and eggs at the attendees. The following night at least 100 protestors gathered outside another gay club, conducting themselves in a similar manner. While human rights groups protested the organized nature of what appeared to be a campaign against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, public officials were notably reluctant to condemn the violence, with one Duma deputy accusing gays of provoking Orthodox believers.
Gay rights organizations were few and often operated "under the radar."
Projects working with homosexuals and educating them about HIV and sexual health continued to be scarce. In April, the Moscow city Duma urged President Putin to restrict the activities of foreign NGOs that fight HIV/AIDS, saying they encouraged pedophilia, prostitution, and drug use among teenagers. The Moscow Duma also accused the Ministry of Education of aiding NGO activities. The State Duma, however, responded at the federal level with a clear statement supporting the urgent need to prevent HIV/AIDS.