30th January, 2014 by Lauren Eads
The Stoli Group USA has announced a three-year-partnership with the LA Gay & Lesbian Centre – months after the LGBT community called for its products to be boycotted.
In July last year, international LGBT supporters targeted both Stolichnaya vodka and Russian Standard after Russia implemented an “anti-gay” law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors in Russia.
Val Mendeleev, chief executive of SPI Group, parent company of Stolichnaya, responded by publishing an open letter to the gay community to stress the group’s opposition to Russia’s “dreadful actions”.
Today, the company announced it would be donating $300,000 to support the LA Gay & Lesbian centre’s Leadership LAB – a program that helps current and future LGBT leaders to develop critical leadership skills.
Its aim is to prepare the next generation of LGBT leaders to effectively advocate for equal rights, build strong organisations, and fight anti-LGBT measures.
John Esposito, president of the Stoli Group USA, said: “Our position at Stoli is clear. We stand with the LGBT community in the fight for equality, and are proud to be working with the LA Gay & Lesbian Centre to make our joint vision possible.”
“Through our strategic partnership we hope to harness the power of our global community, cultivating leaders on a local level in the U.S to create meaningful change throughout the world.”
“Over the last few years we’ve experienced tremendous gains in freedom and equality for LGBT Americans, but there is still much work to be done, especially in states where organising for LGBT equality remains very challenging,” said Lorri L. Jean, chief executive officer of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center.
“And while we’re also making gains internationally, there have been big and significant setbacks. Extremists, acknowledging they’re losing the battle here, are expanding their influence in other countries by demonising LGBT people and attacking our freedoms. Their influence must be countered. This extraordinary commitment by Stoli Group USA sets a terrific example for all corporations.”