January 23, 2014 Update:
IKEA Policy & Compliance Manager Greg Priest posted a public response to the petition reading, in part:
“In the latest issue of our customer magazine IKEA Family Live we ran a feature about two women, Kirsty and Clara, living in England with their child. The article appeared in 24 countries but not in Russia where a law prevents us from publishing it. It is a law that has been widely criticized but one that we have to comply with. However, we wanted to take the opportunity to speak about what the IKEA values mean and what we stand for.”
The current online version of the magazine in 25 countries, including Russia, contains this letter from IKEA Group:
At IKEA, we believe in people. We are guided by our vision – to help create a better everyday life for the many people. We also believe you can be yourself as an IKEA co-worker, an IKEA customer or in your home. We do our best to stand for equal opportunities and support the human rights of all people. And every co-worker can expect fair treatment and equal opportunities whatever their ethnicity, religion, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, or age.
Co-President of RUSA LGBT Yelena Goltsman responded by saying, “We’re glad that IKEA has included this letter in their online magazine — and we’re especially glad that this statement will be placed online in Russia. Though we would have rather Kirsty and Clara’s beautiful photograph been included from the very beginning, we are glad that IKEA has repudiated Russia’s harmful anti-LGBT laws, and we look forward to more companies doing the same.”
IKEA U.S. Corporate Headquarters in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania were bombarded with members of the LGBT community and 45,000 signatures in protest of taking the article about a lesbian family out of the Russian version of IKEA Family Live Magazine.
The London lesbian couple and their son were featured in the December issue, but because of the Russian laws banning homosexuality propaganda, IKEA took out the story for the Russian magazine.
An online petition was set up by members of Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, Russian-Speaking American (RUSA) LGBT Association and LGBT Assistance Russia. They demanded IKEA “republish the magazine and issue a statement condemning Russia’s ‘ban on promoting LGBT rights.’”
President of Spectrum, Larry Poltavtsev, RUSA LGBT activist Luke Ellenberg and founder of LGBT Assistance Russia Vlad Rekhovskyy made the trek from New York to Washington D.C. to give the USB flash drive with 45,000 signatures to the IKEA headquarters.
“In our day and age there is such a thing as corporate responsibility,” Poltavtsev said. “Corporations need to set a standard that won’t tolerate the persecution of people for a cause of hatred and violence.”
In front of the IKEA headquarters, the group was met by an IKEA representative, Mike Cavaliere who asked them to leave. When they explained their purpose, he took the flash drive and said he would deliver it to someone who could speak to the group.
“We’re happy someone was eventually willing to talk with us,” Poltavtsev said while they waited for Cavaliere to return. He admitted the group was initially doubtful they would be able to deliver their message.
However, Cavaliere returned a few minutes later and asked Ellington to come inside and meet with another representative, Stacey Kelly who promised to deliver the signatures to someone within IKEA.
In the past, IKEA has been an LGBT supporter, even airing commercials with LGBT couples.
“IKEA has historically been a strong ally to the LGBT community. But they’ve really failed their LGBT costumers here, and particularly LGBT people in Russia. Based on IKEA’s history, they should have known better and need to issue a clear statement of support for LGBT Russians,” Poltavtsev said.
“Companies doing business in Russia simply can’t remain silent anymore when it come to the human rights violations of LGBT Russians,” Goltsman said. “It’s time for IKEA to do the right thing, stand by their corporate values of equality and stand with LGBT Russians.”
“We can’t go to Sweden so we need to initiate action where we can, and that’s here,” Ellington said about their goal in coming to the U.S. headquarters. “We are hopeful that they will pass the message along to their Swedish counterparts.
“We hope IKEA seriously considers putting the article back in or into an upcoming edition,” Ellington said. “It’s such a great platform for educating people about the LGBT community. It’s a great way to say, ‘Look at this family. We’re the same.’”