Michelangelo Signorile Dishes on Five Other Targets With Russian Ties Ripe for Boycott

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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


  1. FakeOutrage says

    So the above people and companies have good records on gay rights and many have what look like tangential ties to Russia, so we declare them enemies and boycott them? Again, nobody has said what EXACTLY these companies are suppose to do. Looks to me like some of these so called gay activists are just looking to make themselves the “go to” gay so they can get some press time or ratings. Pass

  2. justin says

    I don’t understand. How exactly does boycotting individual Russian companies help the cause? Are they owned and operated by the government?? We need all the allies we can get. Making an enemy out of an ally seems counter productive.

    Ok we boycott. What exactly do we expect these businesses to do?

  3. Mike Ryan says

    What these companies can do is withdraw from Russia. Stop selling their products and services to the Russian people. Encourage these companies to move to countries that don’t discriminate against gay people. These companies made a mistake setting up in Russia and these companies can easily rectify the problem.

    Boycotts cost companies money, profits and result in poor public relations and reputations. No company wants that. Announce a world-wide boycott and they will rectify the situation very quickly.

    As for Hillary – let her know the gay community – her strongest supporters – will not vote for her should she decide to run for President unless she puts her power where her mouth is. Stop Russia from discriminating against gay people. We can always through our political support around another candidate. We need to let her and the Democratic party know that.

    Boycotting the Olympics is next. And it will come if Russia doesn’t change its policies.

  4. Isaak says

    Boycotting Caterpillar, huh? Can I get a show of hands from anyone here that was in the market for some heavy machinery like the ones they make?

    Is it right to deny the Russian people access to items because their government has ridiculous policies? Do we boycott all auto makers since they sell their cars there (and they DO)? How about any airline that flies there? Food suppliers that sell their products? Honestly, we’d have to stop buying anything at all. I can see the point with E&Y if they are trying to bring investment to grow the economy (direct governmental benefit), but selling things to the people is a very different game.

  5. Wisebear says

    The single greatest thing Americans can do for gay people everywhere is to elect Hillary Clinton as president. To stand in the way of that is idiotic.

    I agree that we should ask these companies to support our Russian gay brothers and sisters. But the way to do that with friends is to talk to them, not to boycott them. These are companies that will actually listen to us.

    Lets not be stupid. And let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  6. Macmantoo says

    Seems to me the best way to make an impact is with the sport stars. How about asking them to wear a Rainbow Flag on their outfit. I know the Olympic committee has some rules, but at the same time it’s about human rights. It’s not political, so they say.

  7. Jay says

    This is ridiculous. Every multinational company does business in Russia. It is one of the the biggest emerging markets (“BRIC”) On the planet. And why boycott companies that have good records on gay issues? I work for a competitor of CAT and I would be ecstatic if my company had a 90% on the HRC Equality Index…or if it even participated.

    I used to listen to Michelangelo Signorile ion XM. He never struck me as particularly bright. This jives with my previous impressions. He is a gas bag who doesn’t speak for me.

  8. Mike says

    Boycotting American companies because they are global and Russia is one of their markets is a way-too-diluted and unfair way to make a point. I’m down with the Russian vodka boycott, but when you get really far away from the source of the issue, the boycott becomes meaningless and unsustainable.

  9. Stolichnaya says

    Yeah, let me know when we start boycotting gasoline because it comes from Saudi Arabia.

    This is stupid. SPI Group’s Stolichnaya isn’t even sold in Russia to Russians. And they hate the Putin government. And love the gays. But let’s sh*t on them anyway.

    I’m not boycotting Stoli and I dare the first queen to call me out for it.

  10. Randy says

    Jay and Mike, the reason you boycott so-called good companies is that they seem to value their label as being good companies, and they certainly value dollars. If expansion into Russia is more costly than they expect, even by a little, it can be just the difference to change their minds. If being branded as in bed with bigots costs them customers, that can be the difference.

    It’s unclear to me that what is happening to LGBTs in Russia is on the scale of Apartheid or 1930s Germany, but it might be, or it might go that direction. It’s necessary to put the brakes on this before it gets any worse.

    Ultimately, the goal is to demand the attention of lawmakers, who can pressure Russia to change. Politicians don’t listen to people. They listen to corporations.

  11. scott says

    Geez… what a dolt! This is the best he can come up with??? How ridiculous!

    No, I won’t be boycotting Caterpillar. I doubt I’d ever be purchasing any of their products anyway. As someone stated, if we do this, we’d be boycotting everything from every major company- cuz EVERYONE does business in Russia. Even the vodka boycott seems unwise after some of the critical articles that have come out.

    No- there has to be better, more thoughtful, more dynamic ways to combat what is essentially, a decades-long battle, as it involves the entire culture, the government, people’s attitudes and perceptions about gays- there is not an overnight solution. A better use of our resources is to help LGBTs get out of Russia.

  12. Joe in Ct says

    This guy is ridiculous. He’s like the Glenn Beck of gays. Signorile is obviously very caught up in his own self appointed gay boycott leader persona. I can only hope his close associates talk him off the ledge. This just undermines his credibility.

    I’m actually embarrassed some people seem to think he speaks for all of us.

  13. anon says

    Russia is hardly unique when it comes to lousy civil rights. We could be at it all day. Probably the best approach would be to shun Putin, getting his world image reduced.

  14. Randy says

    No boycott of these companies needed. Instead, we must meet with them and educate them on the issues. Then ask for their assistance. Their assistance can get them to get the ear of decision makers in russia, and that will accomplish much more than boycotting them.

    Remember– they are our allies and are gay friendly. We should use them as allies. They are probably just as upset over Russia as we are, and we can actually give them cover. They can go to Russia and say that they are getting pressure from the gay groups, and US polticians and so on, and so the pressure is to do change.

    Above all, keep the allies as allies!

  15. Victor says

    This is ridiculous. Encourage these companies to extend equality policies to Russia and seriously enforce these policies. So, that these companies will serve as beacons and examples.

  16. alex says

    It’s clear that Michelangelo Signorile has no idea how multi-national corporations function. Virtually 100% of the 2,200+ Holiday Inn Express hotels are franchises. (There were only 7 corporate-owned HI Express hotels in 2007.) Boycotting the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG-the parent company of HI Express) makes no sense because the amount of influence they have over franchises is less than people realize. (I worked in hospitality for 15+ years.)

    Additionally, the idea that any US company is going to pull out of Russia is naive. IHG can’t snap their fingers and magically cancel franchise agreements simply because the Russian government is doing bad things. That’s not how the business world works. Any attempt to do that would result in lawsuits that would likely cost the company millions.

    Clearly, Signorile never went to business school. But, it seems he missed the class on common sense, too. People have written several reasons why this boycott makes no sense. It’s a shame that someone that has a public voice isn’t able to think critically before making a rallying cry.

  17. PeteP says

    It’s no secret that Russia does not produce anything that anyone would want to buy other than vodka. While this may make it difficult to find suitable boycott targets, it does not make it OK to expand the boycott to target American companies that do business in Russia. Signorile’s boycott of P&G, etc. is a bad idea that sounds much more like a stunt to get publicity for his new show format than a sound program to effect social change. He needs to give this more thought and come up with better ideas. How about convincing the American tourist industry that Russia is neither a safe nor appropriate destination for their customers? Get a number of cruise lines to scratch St. Petersburg off the list of ports for their Baltic cruises and somebody might notice.

  18. sahmkan says

    Let us boycot all the sponsors of the Olympic Games in Sochi untill they withdraw their support: Visa, McDonalds, CocaCola, DOW, Atos, General Electrics, Proctor & Gamble, Omega, Samsung, Panasonic

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