The Stoli boycott is the most obviously misguided. First, the company that makes Stoli isn’t based in Russia and the vodka hasn’t been made there for more than a decade. It’s made in Latvia, which is part of the European Union. The owner moved it out of Russia precisely because of his opposition to President Vladimir Putin and the values of his party. In addition, the company that owns Stoli — and is based in Luxembourg — has stated publicly that it stands “strong and proud” with the global LGBT community “against the attitude and actions of the Russian government.”
Clearly, not only does boycotting Stoli hurt a company that actually supports us, but it has about as much impact on Putin’s policies as boycotting borscht!
Most important of all, many Russian LGBT leaders — and LGBT activists in Latvia — have advised that boycotting Stoli is NOT helpful. They’ve said the same thing about an Olympics boycott, as they believe the Games may offer an unprecedented opportunity to impact public opinion among a Russian populace that overwhelmingly opposes LGBT rights.
Calls to boycott Stoli and the Olympics can attract media attention or capture the popular LGBT community’s imagination. But ideas that appeal at first glance to many of us in the U.S. may not actually advance the cause of LGBT equality in Russia. In fact, they could have the opposite effect.”
— Lorri L. Jean, CEO of L.A.’s Gay & Lesbian Center, in “Think First, Act Second to Support LGBT Equality in Russia,” an op-ed she wrote for Huffington Post
[Editor’s note: In the spirit of full disclosure, Queerty and our sister site GayCities are producing The Original Stoli Guy program with SPI, which makes and distributes Stoli Premium Vodka worldwide and is headquartered in Luxembourg in Western Europe.]