Bigot of the Week Award, December 6: IKEA’s Russian Censorship

6 Dec
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

This week Sweden’s famous build-it-yourself furniture company went from big box to bigot box. The international company actually has a long history of LGBT inclusion, offering same-sex partner benefits regardless of the country where a store is located. They have included images of gay and lesbian couples in their advertising and promotional materials for years — including an ad in the US in the 90s that was very cutting edge for its day, up to this point, I say Bravo, IKEA.

Sadly, IKEA’s leadership has decided to take a giant step backwards. The current issue of IKEA Family Living, the promotional magazine given out in the stores, includes this feature about a lesbian couple in England and their son. Well, it includes that feature in every country except one.

Surrendering to Russia’s draconian new “gay propaganda” law, the furniture giant created a separate version of the magazine for its Russian stores. This is a blatant act of censorship and cowardice. Talking out of both sides of her charming salad bowl speakers, IKEA spokesperson Ylva Magnusson contorts like someone trying to assemble a folding bookshelf. Regarding Russia’s law, she says:

Our business is of course focused on home furnishings and we’ll be neutral.

In the words of the lovely and amazing Howard Zinn: “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” What a sad dismissal of years of progressive business practices! Of course Magnusson tries to focus on that aspect, saying:

By being an inclusive employer, it provides both a better working environment and allows us to make better decisions.

But that, of course, is also a violation of Russian law, at least implicitly. The hypocrisy is palpable.

IKEA had a choice. They could have stood firm, running the very small risk that the Russian government would pursue legal action against a major international corporation. They didn’t. They could have made a point by depriving Russian shoppers of the magazine altogether, putting a “banned as gay propaganda” sign in the dispensers. They didn’t. Instead they made a callow, callous business decision, reinforcing a tragic law that damages millions of lives.

Badly done IKEA. No meatball for you!  I would encourage people to boycott IKEA at this point.

19 Responses to “Bigot of the Week Award, December 6: IKEA’s Russian Censorship”

  1. prideinmadness December 6, 2013 at 6:18 am #

    Ugh….if anything could put a country in it’s place it’s a big company….(which isn’t good anyways but I say we should try and use capitalism to our advantage if we can.)

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 6, 2013 at 6:23 am #

      Well said! Thank you for being such a constant and strong ally!

      • prideinmadness December 6, 2013 at 9:42 am #

        Oh, I have to remember to write a post that I think you’ll find interesting!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

        I find your posts very interesting. I apologize for not being more active in commenting! I will be more participatory.

      • prideinmadness December 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

        No worries! I’ve been really busy lately and haven’t been able to participate either.

  2. Central Oregon Coast NOW December 6, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Reblogged this on Central Oregon Coast NOW.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 6, 2013 at 7:52 am #

      Nancy, thank you for reflagging this article. We need to let people know of IKEA’s cowardice.

  3. dykewriter December 6, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Reblogged this on dyke writer and commented:

    Ikea is totally lesbian homeland

    this is distressing………

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 6, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Nina, it is very distressing indeed!

      • dykewriter December 6, 2013 at 11:28 am #

        plus they gots a $1 breakfast

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

        I know. Sad to have to boycott the $1. breakfast.

      • dykewriter December 8, 2013 at 10:51 am #


        I am agoraphobic

        so it’s not like I am going anywhere

        I am sorta

        boycotting life


        (best frankenfurter LOL)

  4. Gary Hollander December 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    Michael, good points all around in your posting here, but I think we may differ on having given Ikea the golden ring in the first place. Ikea and most other corporations that market to LGBT people are not doing us favors; they are calculating risks of including us against the benefits of our buying power. In this, we are not accepted as we are, but tolerated for the sake of profit. In the case of Russia the cost benefit ratio is not in the direction of our inclusion so we are excluded.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      Gary, Sadly that maybe true. On the plus side though, showing gay couples in their publications has a great impact and sends a great message of treasuring LGBT folk, which is now lost for our LGBT brothers and sisters in Russia. Gary, thank you again for your comments, for they help further the dialogue.

  5. Dr. Rex December 8, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    On another note, couldn’t find your about.
    Please, accept this. It’s a very important and newly created award for unique bloggers:

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Dr. Rex, thank you! What a great honor you pay me and I see that I am in exceptional company. Thank you for allowing me to place your blog on my Links page.

      • Dr. Rex December 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

        Thank YOU for accepting and doing the work you do.
        Will check your links … I’m honored that you placed “me” there.

        Hugs. Peace and love!! 🙂

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt December 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

        I hope I’m able to help direct lots of traffic your way. We need all the voices we can for issues of social justice. Individually and collectively we can help wipe out homophobia, racism, misogyny, poverty, and all the other isms.

      • Dr. Rex December 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

        Agree!! I will do my best!! TY …. Michael. 🙂

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