IKEA made headlines last month when they removed an article about a British lesbian couple and their son from the Russian version of the company's internationally distributed magazine, IKEA Family Live, for fear of receiving backlash. Now, RUSA LGBT needs your help in sending the message that LGBT families do not deserve to be erased.
RUSA LGBT, an organization of Russian and Russian-speaking advocates dedicated to equality for LGBT people, has created a petition via Change.org, asking the Swedish-based company to place the couple in the magazine's next Russian edition and to speak out against the Russian government's anti-LGBT "propaganda laws."
The petition reads, "As a company with a strong history of supporting LGBT rights, IKEA could have strongly condemned Russia’s anti-LGBT laws -- laws that continue to allow authorities to arrest LGBT people in Russia, and laws that give cover to groups that terrorize Russia’s LGBT citizens -- and included the photo of Clara and Kirsty."
Russia's vague anti-LGBT laws virtually silence the LGBT community and erase its existence. They have also inspired ongoing violent crimes, such as against an HIV/AIDS group and a nightclub, as well as in the form of discrimination that's lead to death by suicide. As a result, scores of LGBT Russian people are seeking asylum in other countries.
The decision to exclude lesbian parents from the publication is especially alarming, as members of Russian Parliament tried and will try again to have forcibly remove children from their LGBT parents.
Just this week, Russia's President Vladimir Putin reinforced the government's anti-LGBT actions in his State of the Nation address. Of the 25 countries in which IKEA Family Live is distributed, Russia is the only one to receive an edition that was lesbian-free.
This isn't the first time IKEA has caused a stir for its editorial choices. In 2012, the company removed a picture of young people from its Russian website for fear it would be interpreted as support for the band Pussy Riot. The same year, IKEA took out all pictures of women in the version of its catalogue that was distributed in Saudi Arabia. The company apologized for the latter edits.
"Yet deleting LGBT people from their Russian publications is okay? Shouldn’t that also conflict with IKEA’s core company values?" asks RUSA LGBT. They close the petition with the chilling question, "if progressive and friendly IKEA erases us, who will stand up for us?"
GLAAD and RUSA LGBT continue their collaboration in bringing safety and equality to Russia's LGBT community, as GLAAD brings grassroots advocates and their dedicated efforts to the mainstream media's recognition.
While IKEA's decision to remove the LGBT family from its magazine gained national attention, RUSA LGBT's response is doing so as well. Watch MSNBC's segment below: