Bartenders pour Russian vodka onto the street Wednesday in front of the Russian Consulate in New York City.© RIA Novosti. Dan Elias
Gay rights protesters hold signs and chant in front of the Russian Consulate.© RIA Novosti. Dan Elias
Ann Northrop of the gay rights group "Queer Nation" addresses supporters and the media during the protest.© RIA Novosti. Dan Elias
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NEW YORK, July 31 (By Dan Elias for RIA Novosti) - Vodka was flowing outside the Russian Consulate in New York City Wednesday – not into glasses, but onto the street. Dozens of gay rights activists cheered as bottles were dumped directly opposite the consulate building – in the latest protest against Russia’s new laws on homosexuality, which critics say are part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.
The protest was organized by RUSA LGBT, an American gay rights group for Russian speakers, and Queer Nation, a New York-based organization that fights homophobia and anti-gay violence.
“We’ve received an appeal from 23 lesbian and gay activists in Russia that have asked us to do exactly what we’re doing,” Queer Nation co-founder Alan Klein said outside the consulate. “Boycott Russian products, boycott the Olympics and keep the pressure up.” The 2014 Olympic Winter Games are to be held in Sochi, Russia.
The protesters are also calling for the corporate sponsors of the Sochi Games, including Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, and Samsung to pull their backing.
Signs mocking Russian President Vladimir Putin are among those displayed outside the Russian Consulate. (Credit: Dan Elias, RIA Novosti)
Activists held signs and chanted rhyming phrases, including “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re drinking only beer,” and “Putin - don’t try it - remember Stonewall was a riot,” a reference to the violent 1968 protest in New York’s Greenwich Village that gave birth to America’s gay rights movement.
The protesters’ anger is directed primarily at the controversial promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, as well as a new law banning same-sex couples from adopting children in Russia.
The vodka-pour was also meant to encourage restaurants and bars to stop serving Russian-made products, a call that’s already been heeded by some New York City establishments.
Daniel Kucera, owner of the “Etcetera Etcetera” restaurant in New York, said he’s taken Russian vodkas and caviars off the menu. “I wasn’t asked to do it. It’s just basic human rights for me,” he said.
Some of the companies targeted suggest the boycott is misplaced; including what might be the single best-known Russian brand – Stolichnaya. The makers of the vodka, Luxembourg-based SPI Group says Stolichnaya is a longtime supporter of the gay community and sponsor of gay pride events.
Bob Fluet, proprietor of two gay sports bars in New York, banned the sale of “Stoli” and other Russian vodkas last week. He acknowledged Stolichnaya’s long record of support, but said that shouldn’t be confused with altruism.
“No matter what they say, these are business decisions,” he said. “We’re a good business venture for them - all the gay bars are, so that’s why they support us. What they need to do is take the money they spend here and show us how they’re supporting gay youth and the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community in Russia. And then we can say they’re being proactive for us.”
The Russian Consulate was open during the protest, receiving visitors seeking visas and conducting other business. A request by RIA Novosti for comment on the protest was rebuffed by a consulate employee outside the main entrance.
Protests are also planned in other cities, including outside the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate in San Francisco.
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- rochefortfrancois(no title)01:36, 01/08/2013USAID....
- Panthera Parduswhy not protesting in front of Saudi Arabia consulate?14:36, 01/08/2013Surely there is some reason to complain also there? too bad that they did not think about that... also, too bad that they did not think that they are empowering the image of vodka as a drink only for straight man :-) and at the end of the day there are more straight people :-D
- lmishkinPROTEST HARD15:19, 01/08/2013Vodka on sidewalk? Soros's activist know how to "protest hard" :)
- Mikhail1228BS Propaganda!!00:10, 03/08/2013Anyone who knows what this law is about knows this is not anti gay. What these reporters will not tell you is that this new law prohibits the selling of the gay lifestyle to "minors". Who in their right mind wants to tell their kids that this lifestyle is okay? I have got to give kudos to President Putin. I wish we had one leader in the US with half the mojo!
- Mikhail1228A sick society!00:11, 14/08/2013Who in their right minds wants their little children exposed to this gay shit? Why do they have to hear about it and why does it need to be promoted to them? I have to laud President Putin for having the balls to stand up against this and for standing up for traditional families, children and Christianity. Too bad our leaders in the US are too spineless to do the same. Increasingly, religious Russians look on America, with our Hollywood values and celebrations of homosexuality, as a sick society, a focus of cultural and moral evil in the world.