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NYC bar owners dump Russian vodka in latest protest against anti-gay laws

NYC bar owners dump Russian vodka in latest protest against anti-gay laws

NEW YORK — New York City bar owners poured bottles of Russian vodka into the streets of Manhattan on Monday in a protest against Russia’s crackdown on the gay community.

Holding up a bottle of the popular Russian brand Stolichnaya, the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association President Paul Hurley shook his head and called for a city-wide boycott of Russian spirits and liquor.

“All these vodkas here, we’re going to throw them out,” Hurley said. “We feel enough is enough.”

Richard Drew, AP
President Paul Hurley, third left, of the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners Assn., leads a protest by dumping Russian vodka on a New York street, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. The association is joining with LGBT activists to push for a ban on all Russian spirits, liquors and food in bars, cafes, taverns and restaurants around the city.

Hurley, who urged people to drink American-made alcohol instead, said the boycott was the first step toward pressuring Russia to change its policies toward gay people.

Paddy MacCarty, who owns a Manhattan bar called Nevada Smiths, said he’s planning to toss out every bottle of Russian vodka behind the bar.

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At least 200 New York bars and restaurants are participating in the boycott, which has spread to many gay bars across North America in the wake of a newly passed Russian law that bans the so-called “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.”

Signed by President Vladimir Putin in late June, the law imposes hefty fines for providing information about the gay community to minors or holding gay pride rallies. Foreign citizens arrested under the law can be jailed for 15 days and then deported.

Last week, Russia’s sports minister said the country will enforce the law when it hosts the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

In response, U.S. Rep. Jerrod Nadler submitted a bipartisan letter to the State Department calling for protection for Americans who plan to travel to the Olympic Games.

“These laws are completely contrary to the uniting spirit of the Olympics, which brings diverse nations together in a spirit of peaceful and friendly competition,” Nadler said.

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