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Action sought against Russian firm’s exclusion of gays

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — A Russian-owned outdoor goods retailer that sparked outrage after stating on its website that those with a "heterosexual orientation" can apply for its business course is now the subject of a petition campaign against its anti-gay policy.

On another website advertising its Academy of Entrepreneurship course, Expedition lists having a "traditional sexual orientation" among its admissions requirements. The company reportedly has 360 stores worldwide, including operations in Delaware and New York. 

The causes.com petition reads in part, "We are asking US Government to investigate and take legal action against discrimination practices openly advertised by EXPEDITION AMERICA LLC., Delaware Corporation, dba Expedition.com."

It further states, "We are petitioning US Department of State to inform US Consulates abroad and USCIS that owners and executives of Russian owned holding Ruyan that owns EXPEDITION AMERICA LLC. are engaged in discrimination practices and persecuting people based on their sexual orientation. We encourage US Consulates and USCIS to carefully evaluate their eligibility for US visas and/or other immigration benefits."

Others had called for a boycott of the company. But last month, gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev said such a move would be ineffective, offering instead to help anyone who wants to sue the company, Gay Star News reports.

"There is no culture of boycotting any companies or goods because of discrimination and there is no real solidarity in the LGBT movement," he said. "People usually put their economic interests higher than any discriminatory policy of a company. It is not yet the time when boycotts can pay off and the company can be forced to change."

The report also quotes an Expedition spokesperson as saying "real men and real women, in all senses of the word, work in our company and attend our events. These people are very worthy, et cetera. We're for healthy relationships, new children and new families." 

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