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Chicago Gay Bar Removes Stoli From Bar In Response To Russian Anti-Gay Laws

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 25, 2013 4:30PM

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In case you haven't been following international LGBT politics lately, Russia has been getting progressively crazier and crazier in its attempts to repress all attempts at gay activism within its borders. The latest law: a ban on "LGBT propaganda" that affects tourists as well as citizens was signed into law on June 30. A violation of this law, which could include anything from marching in a pride parade to just wearing a gay-themed t-shirt in public, can result in a jail sentence followed by deportation. The first tourists arrested under the law were thrown in jail three days ago.

As a result, gay groups and activists throughout the United States have been calling for action. Dan Savage was the first to call for a boycott on Russian vodka, inventing the hashtag #dumpstoli and #dumprussianvodka.

At least one gay bar, Chicago's own Sidetrack Video Bar, has taken up the call. They posted this to Facebook last night.

Tonight you might notice that Sidetrack has removed Stolichnaya Vodka from our shelves. Sidetrack cannot support a brand so associated with Russia at a time when Russia is implementing (against strong world criticism) it's anti-gay law that bans gay "propaganda". The Stoli story is complicated by decades of lawsuits whereby the actual Government of Russia has laid claim to the Stolichnaya brand name. Very soon the Russian government itself, which bans positive portrayals of LGBT people, may be the beneficiary of the goodwill earned by Stoli's distributors and bars over the years. So starting immediately we will not sell Stoli or any other Russian products at Sidetrack.

We'll see if this spreads to other bars, gay and straight, in Chicago. We prefer to think of this as yet another reason to drink local spirits.