A Russian lawmaker wants to ban Nike's Summer 2015 collection because it features rainbow-themed merchandise that "celebrates the LGBT community and the universality of sport," according to the Nike website. St. Petersburg City Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov, a conservative known for his anti-LGBT campaigns, claims the collection amounts to "gay propaganda," which was banned under a 2013 Russian law, the Moscow Times reported Thursday.
The #betrue rainbow-themed collection is not available in Russian stores, and can be purchased only through the company's American website. Still, Milonov said Nike's "perverted values" are aimed at teenagers, who are vulnerable to advertising messages. Nike has made a #betrue collection every summer since 2012.
"Nike does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, sex, nationality or age," a Nike spokesman said in response to Milonov's campaign. "Nike supports social and cultural diversity and seeks to deliver inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. In Russia, Nike does not request inclusion of any particular products or collections from its partners. The stores decide themselves which products they want to stock."
Russia lifted its ban on gay relationships in 1993, but human rights groups claim the former Soviet Union is still a tough place for LGBT people. In recent years, Russian officials have forbidden gay pride parades, arrested LGBT activists and made anti-LGBT statements, according to the Council for Global Equality. In June 2013, Moscow banned the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships” to minors.
Nike has recently set its sights on the Russian market, according to Adweek. A 2015 ad campaign from Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam features professional athletes with scenes like yogi Olga Markes dripping sweat and boxer Kate Izotova getting punched in the face. "What are you doing here?" says Izotova's voiceover. "You could have stayed at home, been someone's trophy. ... Screw that. I'll earn my own trophy."
Nike also turned Instagram posts of average women exercising into street posters around Moscow. The campaign, called "Real Girls of Moscow," features women who are "free-thinking and free-spirited" and "are more comfortable in sneakers than heels, preferring exercise to fad diets.