Seattle protest planned over Russia's anti-gay laws

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 6:54 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 2 at 7:01 AM

Local gay rights activists are calling for a protest Friday at Seattle Central Community College at 6 p.m. over what they call Russia's persecution of LGBT people.

Russia recently passed a series of laws, like banning gay pride events, outlawing gay adoption, and even arresting foreigners suspected of being pro-gay.

Local activists point to many reasons to get involved. Washington state has been a pioneer for gay rights and the Sochi Olympics are just around the corner. Thursday, the Russian foreign sports minister said Olympic athletes could be arrested and deported for breaking the laws, spurring more calls for a boycott of the winter Olympics.

"The answer is to apply pressure on the people who need pressure applied and love for the people who need to feel supported," said Shaun Knittel, co-founder of Social Outreach Seattle.

Seattle's own Dan Savage, author and nationally known gay rights activist called for the ban of Russian vodka on his Facebook page, and bars across the country joined in, including R Place on Seattle's Capitol Hill. But some say the ban is misguided.

In an open letter, Stolichnaya's CEO Val Mendelev said, "We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia. In the past decade, [we have] been actively advocating in favor of freedom, tolerance and openness in society, standing very passionately on the side of the LGBT community and will continue to support any effective initiative in that direction."

Knittel is hoping Friday's demonstration will help educate people on the issues.

"The average person doesn't know who to call, who to talk to, they want to do something, but I don't know if not buying Stoli is enough," he said.

 

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