A gay-positive bar in Leslieville has decided to stop serving Russian alcohol as part of a wider North American movement to shun the consumption of Russian booze in protest against new anti-gay legislation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently enacted laws that restrict homosexuals from living openly in the country, and earlier this month the Kremlin banned the adoption of children by gay couples in Russia, or in countries where gay marriage is recognized.
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Wayla Bar on Queen Street East, just east of Carlaw Avenue, appears to be the first restaurant in Toronto yank the Russian alcohol off their shelf.
Manager Brian Duvall said the decision was made to stop serving Russian vodka and brandy after speaking with the bar's owner earlier this week.
"There are people that are fighting and dying every day for these rights and so common sense for us — I mean it's the very least we can do to support them," said Duvall.
'There are people that are fighting and dying every day for these rights and so common sense for us — I mean it's the very least we can do to support them.' —Brian Duvall, Manager of Wayla Bar
A pub in Vancouver's west end has also adjusted their menu in protest, following similar moves being taken across the United States.
CBC News spoke with five bars in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood that are also considering a boycott.
Bartender Kevin Roseburough said he morally opposes the new legislation but wondered about the effectiveness of banning Russian alcohol altogether.
"I wonder if it's hurting Smirnoff more than it's hurting Russia," Roseburough said.
Others in Toronto's LGBT community such as Said Atabaki applauded the move.
"The countries that are privileged enough to be able to send a strong message to the rest of the world should be able to — it's a human rights more so than it's gay rights," he said.