Russian high-end food retailer VKusVill recently published an advertisement in a series about its customers, featuring a lesbian family. The reaction from Russian society was swift.
Anti-homosexual law makers condemned the ad, and social media swarmed the food outlet with negative press. VkusVill even reported death threats. Local news media also highlighted and condemned the ad. A boycott of the retail chain is underway as well.
As part of a series of health-conscious families, VkusVill spotlights a “matriarch” Yuma, her partner Zhenya and two daughters Mila and Alina, who practice ethical veganism, support fair trade and provide shelter to LGBT people struggling to find acceptance in their own families, reported the Moscow Times when the ad initially ran.
“We believe not featuring the families of our real customers would be hypocritical,” VkusVill said, warning readers to “weigh all the pros and cons” before continuing further.
The popular retail chain marked its June 30 promotional piece with an “18+” label to comply with the anti-LGBT propaganda law.
After the reaction, which may have included threats from the government, the chain has pulled the ad and issued an apology, blaming the incident on ‘irresponsible employees’.
“We consider this publication to be our mistake, which was the result of individual employees’ unprofessionalism,” VkusVill wrote in the apology.
VkusVill declared the ad “hurt the feelings of a large number of our customers, employees, partners and suppliers.”
“The goal of our company is to enable our customers to receive fresh and delicious products every day, and not to publish articles that reflect any political or social views.”
Russia has a ‘gay propaganda’ law on the books which prevents the presentation of gay propaganda to minors. The Russian constitution also enshrines marriage as between a man and a woman.
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