Boycotting Vodka to Support Gay Rights

by LTomassini on September 12, 2013 - 9:18pm

The article “Facing Fury Over Antigay Law, Stoli Says ‘Russian? Not Really’” By Andrew Higgins of the New York times posted on September 7th, 2013 discusses the social issue that is discrimination (Homophobia in particular) in Russia today. This summer, a large number of Americans were outraged with the way Russia was supporting homophobia and the way which they were treating their citizens that are of a minority. Americans therefore decided they would boycott Stolichnaya vodka which they believe to be a Russian brand of Vodka. They did so by pouring out bottles of Stolichnaya vodka as a way to get the Russian President Vladimir Putin to put into place new laws outlawing homophobic propaganda. Many were however shocked to find out that Stolichnaya vodka was not a Russian brand of vodka but rather was made in Riga, Latvia. Many believe that the boycotters had good intentions. Their way of boycotting Stolichnaya vodka however in no way affects Russia and its government. Although they had good intensions, they only ended up hurting a company and country that supports their cause. Stolichnaya vodka is a brand that is however very misleading. The way in which they market their brand leads one to believe that it is Russian vodka. In 2006, the label on the Stolichnaya vodka bottle said “mother of all vodkas from the motherland of vodka” and in 2010, they changed their label to say “premium vodka”. This led many to believe that Stolichnaya vodka was in fact Russian. Today although it’s main ingredients are from Russia, it is both flirted and blended in Latvia. The company that controls this brand of vodka (SPI) confirms that it is not a Russian brand. It is not trying to deny its Russian roots but rather wants to make it clear that by dumping their product, the boycotters are not doing anything that will influence the Russian Government simply because this issue does not affect them. Despite the boycotts, Stolichnaya vodka says their sales have not been affected although this takes several months to asses. There have also been some bars in big cities in the United States that have stopped buying this brand of vodka. Many hope this boycott will end before it starts to have an affect on the population in Latvia. The Stolichnaya vodka factories have many employees who can not afford to lose their jobs over a misunderstanding like this one.

In my opinion, I think that the boycott is a clever way to get the Russian governments’ attention when it comes to its homophobic laws. I think it is very unfortunate however that homosexual’s are still being discriminated against in countries around the world. Especially in such a large country that has a strong political influence in what happens around the world today. However, the Stolichnaya vodka is not Russian. This boycott is therefore causing problems for citizens living in a country where homophobia is not a major issue. Latvia is wrongly being boycotted. If this boycott doesn’t come to an end soon, many people are at risk of losing their jobs which can lead to many other social issues within the country. I think that the Russian government should step up and take responsibility for their homophobic actions so that the people of Latvia do not have to suffer the consequences of their Stolichnaya vodka being mistaken for Russian Vodka.


I think it’s admirable of those Americans who did what they did to support gay rights in a foreign country. They definitely tackled the issue with an interesting approach, which to me seems more newsworthy than a protest for instance. It’s a great way to gain public attention and raise awareness. More specifically, although this can pose to be a serious problem for Latvia citizens, I believe that if the press continues to focus on this issue, this whole understanding will eventually clear up and clear the Latvia name. Adopting a virtue ethics approach, I don’t think the Americans are to blame for this. Yes, more research could have been done prior to this whole boycott, but to me their intentions were more than good and that should justify the awkward misunderstanding that arose from this given that the company that manufactures the Vodka in question hasn’t even been affected by this situation in terms of their sales.

I come from a family that welcomes everyone with open arms. On each side of my parents families we have gay relatives, never once have we let that become or looked at as anything other than the norm. It bothers me to see and hear of people discriminating against such personal choices of individuals. I find the attempt of boycotting Russia's liquor as nobel; however, it's a shame they didn't conduct a more reliable research behind the brand. The research should have been done more properly and responsibly because now people in Latvia, who support us are being affected by the US actions. The American boycotters intentions were pure, they had sincere hopes to make an impact on the Russian government to make a point we will not support them if they don't support us (anyone who chooses to be gay). I very much enjoyed this post because discrimination against gays, lesbians, transgenders, ect. is such a controversial issue in today's society. While it saddens me to be informed Russia is so against gay rights, I'm left with hope knowing that Americans are making sincere attempts to end it.

The title grabbed my attention scrolling through the feed. I was so confused how the two ideas, alcohol and gay rights, could relate to each other in the slightest. That’s the reason I clicked on the article because who wouldn’t read further to try and figure out what was going on and how both subjects were tied together in an article. I have never heard news of this event so it was interesting to read about. It was cool to see how people could join together and find a creative way to try and make an impact on gay rights in Russia. I myself support gay rights and just recently turned in a discussion paper on the issue of gay rights which also drew my attention to your article. Gay rights is a major issue that a lot of people want to read about. Another reason I connected with the article is the idea of forming a group to try and support a cause. In my school, there was a proposal to get rid of a bunch of teachers that were some of the best our school has ever seen. The students in my high school banded together with a common mission: keep the teachers. We made t shirts that said “Keep our teachers” and all wore them to school in large groups to prove a point to administrators that we wanted our teachers and show the teachers we care about them. I applaud your article because it drew on not just one but multiple levels of my life and there are many ideas that someone is bound to relate to at least one. The article was well constructed and I enjoyed reading it.

I agree with the boycotters. While they did make a big mistake on the brand, and potentially harmed an innocent nation, their intensions are right. Homosexual people shouldn't be persecuted just for being homosexual. It's almost like hating someone because of their religion. It doesn't make any sense. I come from a household where homosexuality used to be taboo, but as time progressed, and I got older, I had many interactions with homosexual people, and it is no different than heterosexual people. Russia clearly is in the wrong with this outrageous persecution of homosexuals. They do need help out there. I'm not sure how exactly we should go about it, but boycotts are a good way to start.

This is a very interesting topic. I believe that many people would agree that the Americans had the right idea when they were boycotting Russian vodka. I have gay uncles and I would take offense to homophobic propaganda. It was really unfortunate that the vodka being dumped out and boycotted was not Russian. This blog did a good job when giving background information about the vodka but I would like to see you take it further about whether the boycott caught the Russian government's attention.

This topic is really interesting and the title grabbed my attention right away. Although boycotting products, like vodka is a good way to get the publics attention, I think that the people boycotting the product should have looked more into it and studied the product more. That being said I think their minds were in the right place. We need to keep talking and pushing this issue until people understand and realize the problem. Over all I think you did a great job explaining this topic.

I think the idea of the boycott is a great way to get the governments attention. It is unfortunate that a company that has nothing to do with Russia or their laws was hurt. But the intension is good. The protesters should make sure to do this again to a Russian company this time to prove their feelings for these laws. I must say your title was very catch and grabbed my attention right away and you did a great job explaining this article, and put a lot of detail in your summary.

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