An anti-gay activist group has demanded Russia’s prosecutor general to take action against a milk brand that they allege promotes homosexuality.
Activists also stated that they will picked shops selling milk produced by PepsiCo Inc's Russian subsidiary because they believe that a rainbow on the packaging violates St. Petersburg’s law banning 'homosexual propaganda'.
Reuters reported that the milk product branded, Vesyoly Molochnik, translated as Gay Milkman (although in Russian the word vesyoly does not suggest homosexuality) was deemed to violate the law as it features a rainbow, which the group says is the international symbol for the LGBT movement.
The group stated that it demanded the Russia’s prosecutor general to take action as the packaging violated the law passed in St. Petersburg in February this year, which makes it illegal to spread ‘homosexual propaganda’ that could ‘damage the health, moral and spiritual development of the underaged’. The offence carries a fine of up to 500,000 roubles ($16,100).
‘In the near future we are planning to picket the shops and hand out leaflets informing people that the money they spent on this milk will be used to finance gay propaganda,’ activist Anatoly Artyukh told the Fontanka.ru website.
Reuters reported that the brand is produced by Russian dairy firm Wimm-Bill-Dann, which was acquired by PepsiCo last year. Wimm-Bill-Dann and prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.
Recently Madonna faced prosecution by Russian authorities for ‘homosexual propaganda’ over her MDNA tour concert which was held at St. Petersburg.
In July GSN reported that over 73 people prosecuted in St Petersburg in first four months under 'homosexual propaganda' law.
St Petersbourg's authorities also recently banned gay pride and fined the event's organizers.
The law was promoted by the ruling United Russia party and adopted by St Petersburg's city assembly in February following the introduction of similar laws in the Russian administrative regions of Ryazan and Arkhangelsk in 2006 and 2011.
Currently 9 regions in Russia have a law against so called ‘homosexual propaganda’, which is now being discussed for nationwide federal level legislation.
The US State Department issued a statement condemning the bill after its first reading in November last year.
‘We are deeply concerned by proposed local legislation in Russia that would severely restrict freedoms of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and indeed all Russians,’ the statement read.
However the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed US criticism on the issue as ‘inappropriate.’