Ikea Removes Lesbian Couple From Russian Catalog

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Nov. 25 2013 2:22 PM

Ikea Removes Lesbian Couple From Russian Catalog

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Russians visit the first Swedish Ikea superstore in a northern Moscow suburb on March 22, 2000.

Photo by Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian’s Shaun Walker reports on furniture giant Ikea censoring a British lesbian couple out of the Russian edition of its magazine:

The December issue of the magazine, which will be distributed in most countries in which Ikea operates, contains a long feature about the lives of Clara and Kirsty, a Dorset-based lesbian couple and their Ikea-filled interiors. "We're two mums bringing up our baby boy in Clara's loft," says Kirsty in the story. "We're not your average family in your average home, but if my nan can raise two sons in a tiny caravan, we can make it work in our little loft."
Russian Ikea shoppers, however, will be shielded from information about the lives of the two British lesbians, in case it is deemed to fall foul of the country's controversial new law banning "homosexual propaganda".
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The case is reminiscent of one last year in which Ikea airbrushed nearly all the women out of the Saudi Arabian version of its catalog.

It’s one of the first cases I’ve seen of an international company complying with the recently passed Russian law. It might not be reasonable to expect a furniture company to behave like human rights activists—particularly not this furniture company—but at the very least, the fact that Ikea seems to have pre-emptively censored a feature that may not have even been sanctioned under Russia's vaguely worded law should negate whatever progressive credibility the company hoped to gain by featuring this family in itscatalog in the first place.

All in all, it’s been a week of bad press for Ikea, which also stands accused in France of spying on customers and former employees. 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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