MOSCOW, July 30 (UPI) — The owners of gay bars in West Hollywood, Calif., said they are refusing to sell Stolichnaya brand vodka to protest of signed anti-gay laws is Russia.
Numerous gay bars have removed the brand from their shelves after new Russian legislation banned “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” including gay pride events and giving children information about homosexuality, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. The legislation also bans gay adoptions.
“Nobody was buying it,” said Bob Yacoubian, owner of the Mother Lode bar.
He said he plans to hang a sign in his bar reading, “Russia’s intolerance of homosexuality should not be supported by our hard-earned money!”
Some protesters plan to hold a demonstration Thursday in front of Micky’s bar in which bottles of Stolichnaya will be poured down the gutter to raise awareness of the new laws, said West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran. The bottles will be filled with water, not vodka.
Val Mendeleev, chief executive of the SPI Group, which owns Stolichnaya, responded to the boycott in an open letter Thursday.
“Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community,” Mendeleev wrote.
He said the brand has no ties to the government, and though it is made from Russian ingredients, SPI is headquartered in Luxembourg.
Approximately 40 percent of West Hollywood is gay, city surveys indicate.