Ikea Removes Lesbian Article from Russian Edition of Magazine to Avoid Violating ‘Gay Propaganda’ Law


Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea has pulled a story about a lesbian couple from the Russian edition of its monthly magazine, The Guardian reports:

The December issue of the magazine, which will be distributed in most countries in which Ikea operates, contains a long feature about the lives of Clara and Kirsty, a Dorset-based lesbian couple and their Ikea-filled interiors. "We're two mums bringing up our baby boy in Clara's loft," says Kirsty in the story. "We're not your average family in your average home, but if my nan can raise two sons in a tiny caravan, we can make it work in our little loft."

Ikea said the removal of the article was to avoid prosecution under Russia's bans on 'gay propaganda':

A spokeswoman for Ikea confirmed to Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper that the article had been changed over fears it could fall foul of Russia's gay propaganda laws. "That's the reason why Russia has another article," she said. "We have two guiding principles in the communication we distribute from Ikea. The first is home interior design. The second is following the law."

The WSJ adds:

Last year, the Swedish company—often seen as a corporate symbol of a Scandinavian nation known for its tolerance—was criticized for pulling back on marketing that may have ruffled sensibilities in particular markets.

In September 2012, for example, IKEA deleted a photo from its Russian corporate Web page showing four young people in balaclavas. The photo could have been seen as a gesture of support for the jailed members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot. The deleted photo was part of a Russian marketing campaign that included a photo competition in Russian MEGA shopping malls, which receive about 200 million visitors per year.

Less than a month later, the furniture company again caused controversy when it digitally removed women from versions of the IKEA catalog distributed in the Saudi Arabian market. The move was made because of cultural sensitivities, but Saudi Arabia's reputation for its treatment of women is seen as out of step with IKEA's commitment to equality, and the company quickly apologized for its action.



  1. Strepsi says


    Third option: pull Ikea advertising from totalitarian regimes!

    That one should have been a no-brainer.

    Fourth option: disobey the law and pay the fine and get positive PR.

  2. MaryM says

    IKEA is a corporation.

    Like ALL corporations its commitment to equality and human rights only extends to the point where profit is not affected.

    Expecting courage or compassion from IKEA is a pointless exercise.

    If IKEA thought that blatant homophobia would increase sales, it would engage in blatant homophobia.

  3. Chaz says

    It’s a corporation. When they say they have values: they are lying. Corporations cannot have values, any more than tomatoes can have wings, or cows can have wheels.

  4. Mike Ryan says

    Let’s help IKEA out: never buy another thing from IKEA. Never offer to put together an IKEA product for anyone you know. Diss IKEA at every opportunity.

    This is the best way to “thank” IKEA for being the bigots they have shown us they really are.

  5. Eugene says

    I don’t think it’s fair to expect a furniture company to act as a gay advocacy group. As a gay Russian who regularly shops at IKEA, I’m a bit saddened by this, but I’m not going to boycott them.

  6. says

    Do we really believe “Eugene” is a gay Russian? And if IKEA was blatantly racist, would “Eugene” still shop there, or is it only because of his internal homophobia that this is somehow okay?

  7. bobbyjoe says

    So, Eugene, it’s okay for IKEA to support anti-gay advocacy? Because that’s just what they’re doing by giving in to Russia’s draconian bigotry. Heck, if I found out a furniture company removed an article about Jews from their magazine in the 1930s so as not to irritate Hitler, I’d STILL never shop at that store, even eighty or so years later.

  8. Eugene says

    Were they homophobic, they wouldn’t have printed this story elsewhere. It’s the Russian law that’s homophobic – and IKEA is neither responsible for it nor should be expected to break it.

  9. TJ says

    How is this any different than editing a move so it won’t get banned in China. This isn’t bigotry they don’t want to break the law.

  10. jpl says

    I say keep the lesbian feature in; pull the business out of Russia. Ikea now added to the same list as Coke and McDonalds. Just not gonna do business there.

  11. SAYTHETRUHT says

    Business is business and in that respect if you loose space, someone will take it. That said think for a moment that the same companies doing it in Russia would have had no qualm with Nazi Germany either, on those times. It’s only bad if the outcry is loud enough to hurt your business. Competitiveness is heartless, so let our voice louder to have some weight.

  12. Doug says

    I won’t boycott a company that at its core is both responsible for the environment and human rights. It is not their core business to advocate for LGBTQ people. They sell furniture. Most companies don’t have LGBTQ people in their advertising. Are you going to boycott them as well?

    I will keep being a customer of them because of the inclusiveness in their advertising.