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
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?