So Putin hates homos. We all know that – he has made it very clear and the Anti-Gay legislation plaguing Russia has been referenced across the LGBT and mainstream medias. The human rights and social welfare implications are dire but what about a colder, less humane, and perhaps purely financial interpretation?
So, let’s ask – do we reckon Putin has thought this through? Does he understand the social and economic impact state-sponsored homophobia will have on the country? Does he hate money as much as he hates homos? I doubt it.
The pink pound is estimated to be worth £6 billion per year in the UK, and over £350 billion of pink money was spent globally in 2012. Russia is missing out on this trade as discerning gay consumers will not be flying to Moscow or St.Petersburg, and many will also be boycotting Russian products at home. Indeed Chief Executive Officer for SPI (which owns Stolichnaya Vodka) Val Mendeleeva has publically explained that although some ingredients used to make Stoli do come from Russia, “the Russian government has no ownership interest or control over the Stoli brand that is privately owned by SPI Group.” It is interesting to see that he has made it very clear the company “fully support and endorse your [lgbt community] objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia. In the past decade, SPI has been actively advocating in favor of freedom, tolerance and openness in society, standing very passionately on the side of the LGBT community and will continue to support any effective initiative in that direction.” Clearly the boycott, even if slightly misdirected, does have an impact. Perhaps that is an angle Russia might listen to?
And what about the labour force contributing to such businesses? How productive are people when they cannot be themselves? Various organisations have argued that 6-10% of the UK population is lesbian, gay or bisexual. Assuming that the UK is roughly representative of other European countries (and not a homo-hot-spot) then that means there could be 8.6 – 14.3 million lesbian, gay or bisexual Russians. Even a conservative medium estimate leaves over 10 million employees not giving 100% to their work, social or personal lives.
With Russia’s economy showing signs of weakness, workers need to perform better and be happy to invest back into goods and services. With industrial output declining in early 2013 (for the first time since 2009) and foreign direct investment subdued, perhaps Russia’s unpredictability and lack of commitment to the rights of its nationals is having a cost. Further economic issues, such as inflation, increased in the second half of 2012 and is set to remain high for 2013.
Furthermore, if you had the choice wouldn’t you leave? And who has those choices in life usually? Is it Russia’s affluent? Perhaps they will be able to escape first and take their money somewhere else. And is it a stretch too far to assume that not all Russians are homophobic? Galop, London’s LGBT community safety charity, highlights that over 1000 homophobioc hate crimes take place in London each year – does that mean everyone in the capital is partial to a bit of gay bashing? I’d hope not! And would Putin carry out the attacks we see in the news personally?
But who will ask these questions of him? Is anyone able to pose these questions? #hatedoesnotpay @VladimirPutin
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