In response to Ikea’s removal of a profile of a lesbian couple from the Russian edition of the company’s Ikea Family Live magazine, a group of gay and lesbian Russian activists and American allies staged a kiss-in at the Ikea store in Brooklyn.
Ikea cited Russia’s prohibition on “promoting non-traditional sexual relationships to minors” for removing the profile of a couple named Kirsty and Clara and their baby.
3. Nina Long and Alex Kargaltsev explain why they helped organize the protest.
Long is co-president of the US-based advocacy organization Rusa LGBT, and Alexander Kargaltsev is a gay Russian photographer who recently got asylum in the US.
4. Oleg and Gennadiy
“I see this decision as IKEA’s quiet endorsement of Russian homophobia,” said Oleg Jelezniakov (seated) in a statement announcing the action. Gennadiy Kaliberda (standing), added, “It’s a real step back for the company which had the first same sex couple in a commercial in US. IKEA knows better and should do better.”
5. Ksenia, Lisa, and Sophie
“Russia is my motherland, but right now my motherland is acting like an abusive bitch,” said Ksenia Mesheryakova (left), who lives with her wife, Lisa, and their daughter, Sophie.
6. Artyom and Joseph
“IKEA shouldn’t abandon this community when it’s under attack and at its most vulnerable,” said Moscow-native Artyom Matusov (right). He is pictured with his American boyfriend, Joseph Huff-Hannon, who said, “IKEA should stop insulting their LGBT customers in Russia and around the world, show some backbone, and publish the story in Russian.”
7. Nina and Gulia
Gulia Tagaeva (right) sought asylum in the US in 2011. ““I’ve always been gay, and I understood I can’t stay in Russia, because now I’m ‘propaganda’.”
8. Gay Ikea Teddy Bears
Ikea spokeswoman Mona Liss responded to Rusa LGBT’s protest in a statement to BuzzFeed, “IKEA welcomes a diverse co-worker and customer community…. This sentiment is also reflected in both our advertising communications and our HR policies. For example, the US was the first major business to feature a homosexual couple in print and TV advertising as far back as the early 1990’s…. The article referred to in this email has been published in 25 countries. Russia has a law that prevents this kind of promotion. It is a law that has been widely criticized but one that we have to comply with.”