The Talker: Boystown bars boycott Russian vodka - New York News

The Talker: Boystown bars boycott Russian vodka

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A group of Chicagoans are on the leading edge of a boycott aimed at stopping what it sees as bigotry thousands of miles away.

At issue is a new anti-gay law in Russia. The law bans what it calls the "propaganda of non-traditional relations:" all information from the gay community.

There is concern that any expression of gay rights or of just being gay -- like a same-sex couple holding hands -- could be considered illegal. Discussion of gay-related issues are said to be banned from any Russian media, including the internet. Rallies for gay rights are also said to be illegal.

The law is said to be aimed both at Russians and foreign visitors, who reportedly can be arrested and detained for up to 14 days if accused of breaking the law.

With the winter Olympics about to be held in Russia, that's getting extra attention.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin says the law is not an attack on people who are gay. He says it's simply meant to "protect" children from information about gay life.

But, gay rights activist say the Russian government, including the police, have been targeting them for years -- making arrests and beating people at pro-gay rallies. They say they new law is sure to create much more violence against people who are gay or support gay rights.

The upshot in Chicago currently is that it's harder to find a bar that serves Russian vodka as bars are starting to boycott it. Bars around the world and here on Halsted Street on Chicago's North Side, are helping leading the boycott.

The brand Stoli, as its known, is the main target. It's made with Russian ingredients.

Showing the complications off world politics and business, the CEO of Stoli vodka put a statement on the company website. It says Stoli agrees with the protesters and calls the Russian anti-gay law "dreadful." The letter tries to clear up what could be a misconception that Stoli is owned or controlled by the Russian government. He says it is not, but with the ingredients from Russia, the boycott could still hit the country in the wallet.

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