Two same-sex couples are currently the front runners in a contest to appear on the cover of Ikea magazine in Russia.
The contest made news earlier this month when a photo of a gay couple with 7000 votes was removed from the competition, sparking a media row in Russia. Ikea representatives confirmed to Echo of Moscow and Lenta.ru that the cover image was removed by the request of the people pictured.
The photo's removal was praised by conservative politicians and press, who stressed that the competition rubric called for “family” pictures. This triggered an activist campaign calling for LGBT couples to take part in the contest. Currently a gay couple from St Petersburg is in the lead with nearly 3000 votes, followed by a lesbian couple from Yekaterinburg with nearly 800 votes. Other LGBT couples have entered the competition, and the voting is still open.
Vitaly Milonov, the author of the Russian “gay propaganda” law, has said that even if the photo wins the contest, Ikea will not “let this stupidity happen” by printing the catalogues — otherwise they will suffer a drop in sales because Russian people will boycott the stores.
In 2013 the company was forced to remove an interview with a British lesbian couple from the Russian version of their catalogue lest it fell foul of the “gay propaganda” law.