While it may have only been a week since Queer Nation began the organized boycott of Russian vodka over the country's virulently anti-gay record, the global media attention brought to the issue is undeniable. Already, Stolichnaya vodka, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and NBCUniversal have been forced to address concerns by LGBT supporters over their ties to Russia.
With this in mind, gay radio host Michaelangelo Signorile has declared that 'a line must be drawn in the sand' for American companies doing business in Russia. Signorile has identified five other targets with Russian ties in the hopes of broadening the boycott's impact:
Procter & Gamble. Despite this US-based multinational company having a 90 percent on HRC's Corporate Equality Index, they are no stranger to gay boycotts. The company's ubiquitous spots for shampoos, toothpaste and maxi pads have made P&G Russia's biggest television advertiser. With millions of dollars being funneled into state-owned, pro-government, homophobic Russian television, putting pressure on P&G would surely make waves.
Holiday Inn Express. A recent and dramatic expansion of American hotel chains in Russia has been touted on Russian news sites, with Holiday Inn planning to unveil 100 hotels across the country by 2020. The hotel chain already has LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination policies, as well as lucrative contracts hosting major LGBT-related events and conventions at their properties worldwide. This policy of inclusion should naturally be extended to our LGBT brothers and sisters in Russia.
Caterpillar. The heavy machinery company has been busy expanding just outside Moscow with long-term plans to invest in machine building across the country. The company positioned itself as a supporter of gay rights this summer when it decided not to fund the Boy Scouts any longer over its anti-gay policies. Clearly, like P&G, Caterpillar has bowed to pressure by gay activists, which is a promising sign if a future boycott is to take place.
Ernst & Young. The multinational accounting and professional services firm has proudly touted its 100 percent score on HRC's index along with its list of LGBT-related awards over the years. Last September, the company announced the opening of an EY office in Vladivostok, Russia to bring American and other companies to invest in the country.
Hillary Clinton. Many remember Clinton's historic speech in Geneva in December 2011 before U.N. leaders, saying that 'gay rights are human rights.' However, as Secretary of State, Clinton was a strong supporter of Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization and of U.S. companies investing big in Russia. In 2009, Russian gay activists pleaded with Clinton to address the Russian government's anti-gay policies during a state visit. Clinton declined.
As Signorile states, "American companies and politicians who court LGBT people are going to have to stand against this brutal regime in no uncertain terms. And it must be expressed in actions, not just words."
You can read Signorile's full piece, HERE.