Chicago Gay Bar Pulls Russian Vodka In Protest Of Putin Restrictions

(CBS) — The biggest gay bar in Chicago has taken Russian vodka off the shelves to protest new anti-gay laws in Russia.

“We have to do something,” says Art Johnston, co-owner of Sidetrack, the biggest and one of the oldest gay bays in Chicago.

“What we can do here in a bar, in a large nightclub, is stop serving the most iconic of Russian products, and that is the Stolichnaya vodka,” he adds.

Johnston says he will leave a gap where the Stoli was. He hopes people will ask what happened to the supply of Russian vodka.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a series of new laws that are seen as anti-gay. One of them labels publicity with a pro-gay stance as “pornography” when directed at minors. He also signed a law banning foreign same-sex couples from adopting Russian children.

“This whole series of laws creates what I can only call a war by the Russian government on gays and lesbians.”

On Sidetrack’s Facebook site, the move has gotten more than 1,000 “likes.”

In response, the CEO of Stoli issued a statement saying, “We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia” and that the company is “very passionately on the side of the LGBT community.”

That company, SPI Group, is based in Luxembourg, and Stoli is actually made in Latvia. All the ingredients, though, come from Russia.

It’s expected more bars will join the boycott this weekend.

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