Photo of gay couple in IKEA Russia catalogue contest withdrawn

The couple gathered more than 7,000 votes before bowing out of the competition. (Photo credit: Fann Sim)
ST PETERSBURG: The photograph of a gay couple (click to see) that has gathered the most number of votes in a Russian IKEA catalogue contest has been withdrawn from the race.

At the time of Prospekt Magazine’s publication, the image received more than 7,500 online votes. However, the photo has since disappeared with the Russian text saying that “the photo was withdrawn from the competition on the request of the author”.

In its seventh year, the Face from the Cover campaign has IKEA guests posing in a mock living room in stores all over Russia for an opportunity to have the photo land on the front page of the iconic IKEA catalogue. The said photo was taken at the Khimki branch in Moscow and submitted by Lev Polyakov and his boyfriend.

Weekly winners of the competition are determined by people’s votes and win a ‎1,000-rouble (14 euro) gift certificate.

An IKEA spokesperson Igor Kisil was quoted by the BBC News Hour “As you know we at IKEA are welcoming everybody or anybody regardless of their age or gender identity or physical ability, race, religion or their sexual orientation. This week a couple of boys have come to IKEA to take a picture of themselves and decided to participate in the contest.”

Russia is known for its anti-homosexuality stance and has recently passed a law that prohibits the promotion of homosexuality. However, IKEA says that there has been no state reaction so far.

“I know that there is a law prohibiting to promote homosexuality. I don’t think that the activity we have on our side is any promotion except for the promotion of life at home and people’s emotions of living at home,” the IKEA spokesperson told the BBC.

The campaign is ongoing from 9 September to 23 October.

This is not the first time IKEA Russia has gotten into limelight for sharing LGBT-related material on their publications. In 2015, IKEA Russia closed down an online magazine over fears that it might infringe Russia’s gay propaganda law, which was passed in 2013.

In other news, close to 70% of Russians think homosexuality is abnormal and must be prohibited in a recent poll by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

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