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article imageIkea drops lifestyle website in Russia over 'gay propaganda' fears

By AFP     Mar 13, 2015 in Lifestyle

Ikea said Friday it was closing its lifestyle website in Russia over fears it could flout a controversial law banning promotion of gay values to minors.

The Swedish flat-pack giant, said it was dropping the magazine website, Ikea Family Live, because "a number of articles could be assessed as propaganda" under the law signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2013 despite opposition from activists and stars including Madonna.

The vaguely worded law, which penalises "propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation among minors" -- using a euphemism for gay, has been used as a reason to ban gay rights protests and to prosecute the founder of a website offering advice to gay teens.

"When we do business, we observe the legislation of the countries where we work, therefore to avoid violations, we have taken the decision to stop publishing the magazine in Russia," Ikea said in a statement.

The magazine, which is published in 25 countries in print or online, features photos and interviews about real-life families' interior decor "whatever their gender or sexual orientation," Ikea's press service says.

In 2013, Ikea was widely criticised after it pulled an article on a lesbian couple from the Russian edition of the magazine, citing the law, replacing it with other content.

Under the law, Ikea could be forced to pay a fine of up to one million rubles ($16,261) or halt its activities for 90 days.

The company's press service in Russia told AFP that "we have not received any official warnings" related to the anti-gay ban. It was not clear whether the Russian edition had published any articles that violated the law.

"We also consider our readers have the right to decide for themselves, what publications might be interesting or worthwhile for them," it added.

It said it did not want to put an age warning for under-18s on the content, which is being used by some Russian publications as a way to avoid accusations of inflicting gay values on minors.

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