Don’t boycott our vodka, you’ve got the wrong country, say gay Latvians

Westerners are boycotting Stoli Vodka in protest at Russian LGBT rights abuses. But it’s actually not made in Russia at all

Don’t boycott our vodka, you’ve got the wrong country, say gay Latvians
01 August 2013

Gay campaigners in Latvia are urging people not to boycott Stolichnaya Vodka over Russian LGBT rights abuses – explaining it is made in their country, not Russia.

Gay bars and events in the US and Europe have ditched ‘Russian vodka’ in the last week in protest at draconian anti-LGBT laws in the country and the threat to arrest gay athletes and supporters at the Sochi Winter Olympics next year.

But many Russian LGBT campaigners have called on people not to boycott the games or products including vodka – saying it is pointless and may be counterproductive.

Now the same message is coming from Latvia. Stolichnaya is labeled as a ‘Russian’ vodka and has been targeted by campaigners. But actually it is made in Riga, the Latvian capital – not in Russia at all.

In a statement from Mozaika, the Latvian association of LGBT people and their friends, sent to GSN Kaspars Zalitis urges people to drop the ‘Dump Stoli!’ campaign.

He says: ‘All Stolichnaya vodka for worldwide export is produced in Latvia. Stolichnaya is produced by the Latvian company Latvijas Balzams and production takes place in Riga.

‘As you know, Latvia was under Soviet occupation for over 50 years, therefore we are still very often mistakenly considered to be a part of Russia. Latvia is a proud member of the European Union and is striving to be an open, democratic country.

‘This campaign will only harm Latvia, Latvia’s economy and employees of the company Latvijas Balzams.

‘It could also backfire and have unintended negative consequences for the extremely fragile LGBT community in Latvia.’

The distiller has 600 employees and Mozaika hopes to work with them in the future – perhaps when Riga hosts EuroPride in 2015. All this could be undone by the boycott.

And the non-governmental organization, a key voice for LGBT people in Latvia, is urging people to do ‘careful research’ before launching similar campaigns in the future.

Mozaika has managed positive change in the last few years after a long, hard fight in face of strong political opposition and is hoping the international LGBT community will hear its plea.



No thumbnail available

Uganda jails British actor for role in gay-themed play

British actor Keith Prosser, who appeared in a gay-themed play last year in Uganda, has been arrested and jailed in preparation for deportation
No thumbnail available

Australia minister: Gay marriage 'very likely' by end of year

Parliamentary debate on marriage equality bill is brought forward to June
No thumbnail available

Has the LGBTI community forgotten its poor people?

Impoverished LGBTI people often can’t get jobs just for being LGBTI. Sebastian Rocca tells us why, and what you can do for your community
No thumbnail available

REVIEW – Mälarpaviljongen bar and restaurant, Stockholm

A floating oasis that is the best summer party in Sweden’s capital
No thumbnail available

Chris Kluwe not surprised NFL coach he called anti-gay 'bigot' is denying it all

'It’s not like he’s going to come out and say, "Yes, I said all those things, please end my career now"'
No thumbnail available

Nick Jonas on his gay fans: 'I love them'

Performer has done striptease in in gay club in recent days and revealed his character in new series Kingdom might be gay
No thumbnail available

Lord Browne: Staying in the closet is ‘not a valid choice... the cost is huge’

The former head of BP, who was outed in 2007, spoke movingly today at business and diversity forum EurOUT 2014: warning tomorrow’s business leaders to be open about their sexuality
No thumbnail available

EU chief Ashton slams Ukraine over Kiev Pride violence

EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton will raise Kiev gay and trans violence with Ukraine government. LGBT activists respond
No thumbnail available

Our favorite photos from Hong Kong Pride

Gay Star News captured the lesbian-lovers, grandmas and Lady Gaga's Little Monsters who came out to support the Chinese LGBT community
No thumbnail available

Calls for more powers to protect gay rights in Commonwealth

Activist Peter Tatchell is calling on LGBT community to submit amendments to new Commonwealth charter 'explicitly' focusing on gay rights