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LA Gay & Lesbian Center CEO: LGBT Community Should 'Think First, Act Second' Regarding Russia

Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center wants the LGBT community to "think first and act second" with regards to our efforts to support the Russian LGBT community. 

She specifically targets calls to boycott companies like Stoli as well as the Sochi Olympics.

Jean notes (in an excerpt):

"...we would be well advised to ensure that our tactics are actually helpful to our LGBT brothers and sisters in those countries.

Unfortunately, neither has been the case lately with much of the reaction to the appalling human rights abuses by Russian officials against LGBT people and our allies. I'm thinking in particular about promoting boycotts of Stolichnaya vodka and the 2014 Winter Olympics (to be held in Russia).

The Stoli boycott is the most obviously misguided. First, the company that makes Stoli isn't based in Russia and the vodka hasn't been made there for more than a decade. It's made in Latvia, which is part of the European Union. The owner moved it out of Russia precisely because of his opposition to President Vladimir Putin and the values of his party. In addition, the company that owns Stoli -- and is based in Luxembourg -- has stated publicly that it stands "strong and proud" with the global LGBT community "against the attitude and actions of the Russian government."

Clearly, not only does boycotting Stoli hurt a company that actually supports us, but it has about as much impact on Putin's policies as boycotting borscht!

Most important of all, many Russian LGBT leaders -- and LGBT activists in Latvia -- have advised that boycotting Stoli is NOT helpful. They've said the same thing about an Olympics boycott, as they believe the Games may offer an unprecedented opportunity to impact public opinion among a Russian populace that overwhelmingly opposes LGBT rights.

Calls to boycott Stoli and the Olympics can attract media attention or capture the popular LGBT community's imagination. But ideas that appeal at first glance to many of us in the U.S. may not actually advance the cause of LGBT equality in Russia. In fact, they could have the opposite effect."

 

Do you agree with Jean's stance, Instincters? Does the LGBT community (and our allies) need to take a step back to ensure that we're providing more help than harm?? What's your position?

 

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Comments

So I am a little confused by this article since we are always told to take action and fight for our rights. Now you say hold on, this is costing a company money, so you should think first before acting. Dear community leaders and role models - make up your mind... Don't start being politicians now...

please help us find a russian boy. he was getting bullied with a internet video. visit our facebookpage to help. thanks a lot. https://www.facebook.com/sergeyenkodenismihailov

This photo reminds me of a scene I witnessed first hand in Washington, DC, when Iranians revolted against the Shah, seized the ambassador's residence here, and poured over 400 cases of Dom Perignon into the storm sewer.

The IOC is the one that needs pressure demanding that they move the winter Olympics to someplace neutral...like...the Swiss Alps.

Perhaps Lori Jean is okay with turning a blind eye like the IOC is. At this point, the IOC is not only not taking action, but are supporting Russia by caving in on not having Pride House and by threatening to disqualify athletes who violate Russia's anti-gay law. 

And she wants us to support these Olympics? 

Really, Lori Jean?!? It's come down to sports over basic human rights? For what it's worth, I did think first. Perhaps you should. Just because athletes trained and may miss out on an opportunity to compete in the Olympics doesn't outweigh the cost to Russian LGBT kids being tortured and killed. I just don't even see how this is a question. I couldn't care less about the whole Stoli thing. The Olympics are what need to moved or boycotted. Period.

I think SPI Group needs to divest itself of its Russian content. SPI is a major commercial property developer in Russia, owns 5,000 hectares of grain-growing land, and operates two massive distilleries in Russia. HQ may be in Luxemburg, but the company clearly has massive operation within Russia.

Being a private company, SPI Group doesn't have to share details, but it would be nice to know what percentage of marketing is to LGBT. Do you really think it's more than 25% of the total? Or perhaps, what percentage of revenue comes from outside/within Russia.

Seriously?? Have you not done your research?  SPI is Putin's public enemy #1, so if anything we should be supporting SPI.  The President of Stoli has been exiled from Russia due to his dissenting opinions of the government over the last two decades.  The 'Stoli' that exists in Russia and owns property is a Russian owned zombie company created by Putin.  It has nothing to do with SPI or the original 'Stoli.'  This zombie vodka is ONLY served in Russia.  Look at a bottle of Stolichnaya next time you are at the store.  No where on the bottle does it say anything about being 'Russian Vodka,' in fact it has not for years.  On the back of the bottle in the lower left it reads 'Made in Latvia.'  The parent company and distributor SPI is based in Luxembourg and has minimal ties to Russia.  What the article is saying is do your research before you react.  In this case the LGBT went on a witch hunt and attacked the wrong group.  A group that has had our backs for decades.  Now people like Dan Savage and the joke of a City Councilman, John Duran, are too embarrassed and so invested in this sham, that they will not back out.  
 
Moral of the story, take action!!  Please, PLEASE do a bit of research first and see what your actions are for.

At this point, quite a bit of attention has been brought to the issue....worldwide.  Picture the games with athletes from 100 countries wearing ribbons in support of gay rights.  I think an effort to enlist the help of all athletes would send a stronger message.

Lorri L. Jean Should perhaps realize that there are many different simultaneous actions that can come together to leverage pressure, and that for many, more than a lot of thought has gone into the collective cry to boycott. Dismissing boycott as unconsidered because she may not agree with it, is condescending. Stoli while not bottled in Russia, is made from Russian sourced ingredients. Boycott in SA didn't have inside support initially, but was proven by history to be the correct course, and here, it is what got the officials attention. History has also shown that trying to reason, where there is none is futile. So to imagine that happy gay images will be broadcast across Russian state run TV and internet, as a strategy, is naive and ill-considered. Reckless actually! If Lorri has any strategies to contribute (lacking in this article) then I'd be happy to hear them, but to essentially espouse what amounts to doing nothing, will achieve just that. Nothing. Sorry to say, you can't fight a hard line with feather boas, it needs a hard line response, Perhaps with a couple of boas for marks in presentation.

I didn't like the Trayvon Martin verdict, does that mean I should boycott Orange Juice? This thing against Stoli is doing more harm than good. This story states the facts, clean and simple.

to Henry - August 14, 2013

I invite all to research the things i mention below.  Try a little research before you voice your opinions people.

You're a fool to think that this story states the facts clean and simple.  You are easily lead, you read one article and make judgement based on one story.  You are ignorant by choice.  

Scholars and professors from top universities including Ivy League Universities with business graduate degrees all agree that although boycotts may not be successful in causing financial losses for businesses boycotted...a boycott can very well be effective if the issue is brought to light. since we are talking about it, the media, our President and other governments, ....ummm ...i think it's working, buddy.  Had Stoli (which is produced in Russia..."read" the label and "read" their website (states the facts clean and simple), so, had Stoli not been boycotted then little if any attention would have been brought to Russia's horrible actions against humanity, the lgbt community.

if you choose to be ignorant that's fine.  just keep your ignorant opinions to yourself.  and that goes for the lesbian that wrote was quoted in this article.  Lorri L. Jean should not be working representing an entire community and speak as if she is a representation of an entire group of people.  i say fire her smelly *ss.  (j/k...kinda')

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