Russian anti-gay laws inspire talk of Sochi boycotts

Russian anti-gay laws inspire talk of Sochi boycotts

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Protesters hold a demonstration against Russian anti-gay legislation and against Russian President Vladimir Putin stands on gay rights, in front of the Russian Consulate in New York, July 31, 2013. Protesters called for a boycott of Russian products and ask the Russian government to repeal the anti-gay propaganda law before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

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by Associated Press and Jeff Thompson, KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 5 at 12:47 PM

NEW YORK -- Russian vodka and the Winter Olympics in Sochi. For now, those are the prime targets as gays in the United States and elsewhere propose boycotts and other tactics to convey their outrage over Russia's intensifying campaign against gay-rights activism.

At many gay bars across North America, owners last week joined a campaign to stop selling Russian vodka -- notably the popular brand Stolichnaya.

Background: US bars dump Russian vodka for anti-gay law

The chief flashpoint is a law signed by President Vladimir Putin last month that bans the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and imposes hefty fines for providing information about the gay community to minors or holding gay pride rallies. Foreign citizens arrested under the law can be jailed for 15 days and then deported.

There have been only scattered calls for a full-fledged boycott of the Sochi Games, but there is active discussion of how to convey gay-rights messages once the competition begins.

Last month U.S. lawmakers quickly dismissed any talk of boycotting the games over Russia's decision to grant asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

More: House Speaker rejects Olympic boycott over Snowden

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested that if Russia provides a safe haven for Snowden, the U.S. should consider keeping its athletes home during the 2014 Winter Olympics. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) rejected the idea.

"Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who've been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can't find a place to call home?" Boehner told reporters at a news conference afterward.

White House spokesman Jay Carney wouldn't speculate on any boycott of the games, but said that Snowden's case shouldn't harm relations between the countries. A September meeting between Putin and President Barack Obama is still expected to proceed as planned.

Related: IOC's Carrion calls for diplomacy on anti-gay law

 

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