Wow! American telecom giant AT&T became the first major Olympic sponsor to speak out against Russia’s LGBT crackdown as the Winter Games got underway.
But Coke has yet to make a statement against Russia's draconian anti-gay laws.
Coke is a major sponsor of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Olympics should be about celebrating all that is good in humanity. But instead, the Sochi Olympics risks being known for hatred and homophobia, due to a draconian new Russian anti-gay law that criminalizes even coming out of the closet.
Close to 450,000 SumOfUs.org supporters have already asked Coca-Cola to speak out. With the AT&T news, and with the Olympic Games in full swing, this is the best shot we have at creating a public relations problem for Russia that can ultimately push it to overturn its horrific anti-gay laws.
Tell Coca-Cola executives to condemn Russia’s anti-gay laws and call for their repeal.
Russia's anti-gay law forbids anyone from "promoting non-traditional sexual relations'. In practice, this means anyone can be arrested and jailed for something as simple as coming out, wearing a rainbow pin, or demonstrating in public.
Mega-corporations like Coca-Cola have invested millions in sponsoring the Olympics and billions in their operations in Russia. In effect, Coca-Cola and others are bankrolling the Sochi Olympics. This gives them huge influence on the thinking of the International Olympic Committee and the Russian government.
It’s easy to think we can’t influence what’s happening in an authoritarian regime like President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But Putin craves legitimacy and glory. If we can get the companies that are paying for his personal public relations exercise to step up and criticize this vicious anti-gay law, then Putin’s Olympic games are in trouble.
As a community, we’ve shown what can be achieved when we work together for LGBT rights. We’ve fought against transphobia in newspapers like the Daily Mail. Together, we persuaded Pepsi to fight against Uganda’s anti-gay law, and we ran a huge campaign to thank Starbucks for supporting marriage equality. We’re defending the most basic of all human rights: the right to life, the right to live free of unfair arrest, and the right to be yourself.
AT&T Becomes First Major Advertiser to Protest Russia’s Antigay Law, The New York Times, 04 February 2014.
Russia passes law banning gay 'propaganda', The Guardian, 11 June 2013.