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Pride Merchandise Made in Anti-LGBT Countries Sparks Outrage

primark stonewall antigay

Clothing retailer Primark is under fire for manufacturing its Pride line in countries that criminalize being gay. 

After announcing it will sell a Pride collection in Europe, the U.K., and the U.S., Ireland-based retailer Primark has been criticized for producing its merchandise in China, Turkey, and Myanmar, all known for having abominable records on LGBT rights, progressive website Common Space reports..

The line, which includes T-shirts, caps, and accessories, will raise money for the queer charity Stonewall, which will receive 20 percent of the proceeds. However, dollars will be going to places where Pride is illegal.

Last year Turkish police shut down the Pride parade in Istambul. In China, LGBT people and other groups making political points are not allowed to march, so the Pride celebration in Shanghai consists mostly of indoor events. China has also been known to censor LGBT content on social and other media. In Myanmar, being gay is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Stonewall, which lobbies the government "to change laws that do not ensure equality for LGBT people, or laws that do not go far enough" has defended the brand. It said it is proud to work together with Primark to champion international LGBT rights and that the funding will empower LGBT activists in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and South Africa.

However, many are not satisfied. Some are even questioning Stonewall's ability to advocate for the queer community. Some have even claimed the line is profiteering and exploitative.

Even the organizers of UK Pride are distancing themselves from Stonewall and Primark.

It's unlikely that Primark is the only brand that has released lines of Pride clothing manufactured in countries that deny LGBT people their dignity. The question is, should all brands boycott factories in those nations, and should nonprofits benefiting from their donations disown the campaigns too?

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Ariel Sobel