If you haven’t been downing vodka in a local gay bar over the last few days, or constantly looking at the Internet, you might not be aware of the new Russian Vodka Boycott trend sweeping the nation.
Basically, concerned activists sick of Russia’s current stance on LGBT rights have decided to do something about it. Led by journalist Dan Savage, hundreds of bars across the country (and several in New York) have been refusing to serve Russian brands of vodka in their establishments.
While people’s commitment to change is admirable, and anything that raises awareness can’t be a negative thing, there have been concerns that the movement isn’t really making a difference.
If you do fancy trying to instigate change, here’s a few more constructive ways you can help:
1. Join protests
While it’s all well and good switching brand of hooch when already half-cut on cut-price shooter deals, you could do something that involves going a bit out of your way and is a little kinder on your liver: peaceful protests outside Russian embassies.
Christina Finch, LGBT representative from Amnesty International is helping people organize protests, which are always a good way to annoy politicians (who wants to be shouted at on their way to work?), and at the same time you can totally make fancy placards and banners. It’s like a human rights arts and crafts day!
2. Sign up to put pressure on Putin
While we’re on the topic of Amnesty, they also provide a system where concerned citizens can voice their anger directly to President Putin on his abhorrent new LGBT laws. It’s less active than attending a protest, but still counts!
3. Boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics
Rusa LGBT has been calling for a boycott of the upcoming games in Sochi, Russia. Obviously, unless you’re an athlete or official, you might not be able to do something directly, but you can help by calling on the games’ sponsors (including Coca-Cola, PWC and Samsung) to withdraw support. This often the best way to really make governments listen, and at the same time, you still get to boycott something. Everybody wins!
4. Sign a petition to disallow visas for prominent Russian officials
A petition started on the White House’s website calls on the government to restrict visas to lawmaker Vitaly Milonov and State Duma deputy Yelena Mizulina, who both had a hand in the medieval new laws. If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures (i.e. a tiny proportion of the population), the Obama administration will have to consider taking formal action.
Although it seems almost futile to try and make a difference if you’re a normal person over here in the U.S., there are things you can do, things which don’t involve wasting yummy, yummy vodka.