Lush Cosmetics’ new campaign, “Sign of Love,” launched on January 27. As a mark of solidarity with the LGBTQ Russians being oppressed by Putin’s anti-propaganda laws, Lush stores will display signs that read, “We believe in Love.” In addition, staff will urge customers to paint and display pink triangles on their bodies as an individual sign of support.
While featuring the “Sign of Love” campaign in any of the company’s sixty-three Russian stores would violate anti-gay propaganda laws, other locations are committed to highlighting the malice of the country’s legislation against the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to minors.
“Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to stand up [for]everyone’s right for love. No country, company, or individual can stop love; all they can do is punish people for that love,” said Lush’s campaign manager, Tamsin Omond. “To do so—to forbid or criminalize love—is unnatural and cruel, so I am proud that we are standing in solidarity with LGBTQ people and campaigning for equal love.”
Renowned gay rights activist Peter Tatchell says that Lush’s move to openly show support for the LGBTQ community is commendable when compared to other companies, many of which opted for silence and impartiality. Tatchell, sixty-two, told The Independent that the makeup brand’s “proactive stand…[contrasts]with the silence and inaction of Winter Olympic sponsors like Coca Cola, McDonald’s, and Visa. They have show great cowardice by refusing to make any public statement criticizing Russia’s anti-gay laws and the escalating levels of homophobic violence in Russia.”
Lush is also utilizing social media to spread the campaign, encouraging consumers to upload photos of themselves marked with pink triangles—a sign of love. Additionally, the company asks that people lend their signatures to All Out’s petition to eradicate homophobic legislation in Russia. Started on June 7, the petition currently has nearly 406,000 of its 500,000-signature goal.
“We stand with citizens across Russia who are calling on their government to stop the crackdown against lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people that is fueling anti-gay violence,” reads the petition’s description. “We urge leaders around the world and within Russia to work to eliminate all anti-gay laws and protect all citizens from violence and discrimination in Russia.”
The Winter Olympics will begin on February 7 in Sochi, Russia. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach insists that visiting competitors will not be subjected to discrimination based on sexual orientation; however, he also said that athletes would not be permitted to speak on political issues on the medal podium or other Olympic sites.
“It’s very clear that the games cannot be used as a stage for political demonstrations,” said Bach. “The IOC will take, if necessary, individual decisions based on the individual case. On the other hand, the athletes, of course, enjoy the freedom of speech. So, if in a press conference they want to make a political statement, then they are absolutely free to do so.”