Tag Archives: Sochi Winter Olympics

Number 1 Bigot of the Year Award 2013: Vladimir Putin

31 Dec
Not Gay At All!

Not Gay At All!

Bigot of the Year is always troublesome for me. I confess, I do not enjoy looking at and writing about bigots. It weighs heavy on my heart the plethora of bigots to choose from each year. This year was a particularly difficult choice, for many bigots could have easily taken first spot. I reflect back on some of the more nefarious BWA, such as: Paula Deen, Ted Cruz, and of course (somewhat ironically, given this year’s Hero!) the United States Supreme Court for basically eliminating the 1964 Voter Rights Act.

One figure managed to rise above (or is that sink below?) the rest: this year’s Bigot of the Year Award goes to Vladimir Putin. As the leader of one of the world’s most powerful nations, Putin’s aggressive support for Russia’s new “Gay Propaganda” law makes him one of the worst human rights violators alive today. The climate of violence in which Russian LGBT folk live is horrific. That Putin would enshrine this bigotry into law and then defend it as a necessary step is unconscionable. As usual, people who are so focused on the LGBT community and so actively violent against our community make me wonder what their own issues/struggles are around being gay.

Putin’s actions are a direct lift from the Nazi playbook, demonizing an unpopular minority to bolster his political standing. Each day he is in office is served on the backs of millions of LGBT Russians. Insisting that he will enforce these evil laws even for visiting diplomats and athletes as his nation hosts the Winter Olympics is vile icing on his cake of hate.

Here’s to French President Hollande for refusing to attend the games and to President Obama for sending an openly gay delegation. We must stand in solidarity with our Russian brothers and sisters and refuse to bow to this ghastly oppression.

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.

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