Gay and lesbian Russians are being persecuted by their government because of their sexuality. If you order an Appletini with Ketel One instead of Stoil, could you be helping to save their lives?
Russia has historically been a country willing to let its citizens starve to death if it meant preserving its so-called moral traditions and its reputation of being the strongest, boldest, most proud bunch of ass-backwards lunatics on the face of the earth. So even if Stoli is produced in Russia and even if its CEO is a rich Russian man living in the Motherland with ties to the government (I would link you to the 78 million op-eds both disputing and asserting each of these points if any of them weren’t just regurgitated press releases from self-serving megalomaniacs like Dan Savage or the editorial staff from GayCities’ Queerty, which is literally being paid by Stoli) and even if Stoli were to somehow collapse because of some hunky bartenders from Boxers NYC and The Abbey and Sidetracks pouring one out for their comrades, no serious person can honestly believe that any of it would actually persuade one single Russian politician—not to mention the majority of Russian citizens, many of whom are crazy, violent, murderous fascists—to re-think what has been a fundamental component of their national identity for over 300 years.
—In 1716, Tsar Peter the Great enacted a ban on male homosexuality in the armed forces. The prohibition on sodomy was part of a larger reform movement designed to modernize Russia and efforts to extend a similar ban to the civilian population were rejected until 1835.
—In 1832, Tsar Nicholas I added Article 995 which outlawed muzhelozhstvo. While this could have created a ban on all forms of private adult voluntary homosexual behavior, the courts tended to limit its interpretation to anal sex between men, thus making private acts of oral sex between consenting men legal. The law did not explicitly address female homosexuality or cross-dressing, although both behaviors were considered to be equally immoral and may have been punished under other laws. Persons convicted under Article 995 were to be stripped of their rights and relocated to Siberia for four to five years.
—In 1933, Article 121 was added to the criminal code, for the entire Soviet Union, that expressly prohibited male homosexuality, with up to five years of hard labor in prison.
—On 27 May 1993, homosexual acts between consenting males were legalised. However, there have been reports that by 13 August 1993, “not all persons serving sentences under the old legislation have been released from jail”, and there have been “cases of homosexuals being re-sentenced and kept in jail, cases of imprisoned homosexuals who cannot be located and of missing files”. The reform was largely the result of pressure from the Council of Europe.
Many delusional gay men are pointing to the boycotts of Coors Brewing Company and Target as proof that refusing to buy a corporation’s products can influence that corporation’s stance on the issues for which they are being boycotted, but do these people not realize that Coors is a beer company and Target is a grocery store and Russia is…a country? I am not pro-Stoli or pro-Russia, but I am anti-stupid, and meaninglessly boycotting something that may or may not be tangentially related to your cause—which will most certainly not bring about the desired change—is stupid, so don’t do it. Or, go ahead and do it. I don’t care.
Just today, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko announced that gay athletes would be arrested if they didn’t obey the country’s “homosexual propaganda” law, which directly contradicts recent statements from the International Olympic Committee that gay athletes participating in the 2014 Sochi games had nothing to worry about. Considering this new development, maybe people will give up on the worthless Stoli boycott and focus on a real target. Maybe people will do something that can actually hurt Russia and, more specifically and importantly, Russian nationalism: Boycott the Russian Olympics. Boycott the whole event. Don’t go, don’t watch it, and boycott every single product from every corporation that sponsors it.
I’ve heard ridiculous complaints that boycotting the Olympics would be “devastating” to the athletes who have trained “their entire lives” for the games, to which I say….and? So what if Tonya Harding Jr. has to wait a few years to put on the sequined leotard she’s been training her entire life to wear. Gay Russians don’t even have actual lives.