Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a controversial anti-gay bill into law that would punish anyone who advocates gay marriage or any sexual behavior that is not between a man and a woman. The bill would fine any individual up to 5,000 rubles ($156 U.S. dollars) for any propaganda advocating same-sex marriage. Just recently, four Dutch tourists were detained and brought into court for "advocating homosexual behavior in minors."
After President Putin signed the bill into law, many American and Canadian gay bars have begun fighting back. After gay rights activist Dan Savage called on bars across America to boycott Russian vodka, many gay bars have taken up the call to arms by banning the sale of any Russian vodka.
Revolver Video Bar on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood said on its Facebook page, “Revolver Video Bar could not support any brand associated with Russia at a time when the Russian government is implementing its anti-gay law that bans gay ‘propaganda,’.”
Chicago's biggest gay bar Sidetrack said it would be removing Stolichnaya Vodka from its shelves as well. Co-owner Art Johnston said, I had been following the various news reports about what was going on in Russia. It's hard to believe that they could carry out and enforce that kind of a law, but they did."
Another bar in Chicago named The Call posted a sign that reads "Proudly serving non-Russian vodkas."
So far, bars in NYC, LA, Miami, Vancouver, Toronto, London, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego and Sydney have participated in the ban.
The Russian vodkas currently available in the U.S. are Dovgan, Gold Symphony, Standart, Hrenovuha, Kauffman, Kubanskaya, Moskovskaya, Narodnaya, Pyatizvyozdnaya, Putinka, Rodnik, Ruskova, Russian Standard, Shustov, Starka, Stolnaya, Youri Dolgoruki.
Here are five gripping photographs showing what life is like for gay people in Russia, followed by the heroic images of gay bars who are fighting back against discrimination toward gay people.
Mind you, Russia is getting ready to host the 2014 Olympics games in Sochi. Russia insists that gay athletes and tourists will be safe, but these photos tell a different story. Will you join these bars in boycotting Russian vodka in the name of gay rights?