Just One Week After Launch, Campaign Targeting IKEA for Anti-Gay Marketing Decisions Intensifies With Over 33,000 Petition Signers
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Just two days after RUSA LGBT — an association of Russian-speaking lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans — coordinated multiple protests at IKEA stores in the U.S. and Russia, an online petition targeting the chain climbed to over 33,000 signatures. Within weeks after news emerged that IKEA — the Swedish furniture chain that markets itself as socially-progressive and inclusive of all customers — removed pictures of a lesbian couple from the Russian version of their December “Family Live” magazine, LGBTQ groups are fighting back.
A week after launching a petition on Change.org, over 33,000 people have signed RUSA LGBT’s online petition urging IKEA to stand up to Russia’s new anti-LGBTQ laws (www.change.org/ikearussia). The “homosexual propaganda” law was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June and has created much controversy and protest in the run up to Russia hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2014. [pullquote]”As the international community shows support for LGBTQI Russians, it’s upsetting to see IKEA take such a cowardly, anti-gay visibility stance,” said Luke Ellenberg, RUSA LGBT activist. [/pullquote]
Many private individuals have already pledged not to watch the games due to Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws and world leaders are now following suit. German President Joachim Gauck recently announced that he would not be attending the Games, and there will not be any top French officials at the Games, according to an announcement on Sunday (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25392175). Meanwhile, IKEA’s decision to steer clear of any possible interpretation of the law puts the company in direct conflict with the worldwide effort to support LGBTQ Russians.
“As the international community shows support for LGBTQI Russians, it’s upsetting to see IKEA take such a cowardly, anti-gay visibility stance,” said Luke Ellenberg, RUSA LGBT activist. “Despite repeatedly being named as one of the ‘most ethical companies’ in the world, we’re seeing the IKEA brand being tarnished in an effort to comply with Putin’s intolerance. We’re simply asking IKEA to reconnect with the company’s core values, and to stand with LGBTQI Russians as a matter of both corporate and human compassion.”
RUSA LGBT and other LGBTQ activists across the globe are asking IKEA to follow the example of Lady Gaga, Madonna, Cher, Bravo’s Andy Cohen, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, American Bar Association President James Silkenat, and many others who have condemned Russia’s treatment of LGBTQ citizens and are speaking up to injustice rather than bowing to it.
There is a precedent for IKEA reversing policy on humanitarian grounds. Last year IKEA deleted images of women from its Saudi Arabia catalogue and came under widespread global criticism. IKEA later apologized for this incident, and said its actions conflicted with their core company values.
RUSA LGBT’s ongoing Twitter campaign is calling on IKEA to use this opportunity to “be a friend” to the LGBTQ community in Russia and to take a stand against homophobia by not erasing our existence from their catalog. This campaign is also supported by Spectrum Human Rights and GetEQUAL.
RUSA LGBT is a Russian-Speaking American LGBTQ association that helps connect those who identify with Russian-speaking and LGBTQ cultures. RUSA LGBT has welcomed many LGBT asylum seekers from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus who fled the abuse and mistreatment in their homelands. RUSA LGBT regularly organizes cultural and social events to unite Russian-speaking LGBTQ community in America and to increase acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ people within the Russian-speaking public. RUSA LGBT fights for social justice, human and civil rights for LGBTQ people in America and in the Former Soviet Union. You can find more about RUSA LGBT at www.rusalgbt.com.
Spectrum Human Rights Alliance unites multiple LGBT communities across Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and former Soviet Union. Our organization strives to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and ultimately achieve fundamental fairness and equality for all. Spectrum Human Rights Alliance seeks to protect LGBT community in their respective countries by developing region specific educational programs, PR and communication campaigns, grassroots organizations and movements. Our goal is to promote equal rights for all people through innovative advocacy, education and outreach programs. For more on Spectrum, go to www.spectrumhr.org.
GetEQUAL is a national grassroots social justice organization whose mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information, go to www.getequal.org. You can also follow GetEQUAL on Facebook at www.facebook.com/getequal or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/getequal.
[From a News Release]