Coca-Cola, set to sponsor the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia in February 2014, has continued its nonchalance regarding Russia’s controversial anti-gay propaganda law.
Although Coca-Cola released a statement saying, “We do not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world… We believe a more positive impact can be made through continued involvement [in the Olympics], rather than by sitting on the sidelines,” they have yet to openly criticize Russia’s homophobic laws.
In London on December 22, activists attempted to climb a Coca-Cola truck in London’s Covent Garden while protesting Coke’s sponsorship of the games.
The protest in London was attended by gay rights groups such as the Peter Tatchell Foundation and Africa’s Out and Proud Diamond Group, who have pushed the company to denounce the law, claiming that through its sponsorship, “Coca-Cola is rewarding the Putin regime.”
According to Gay Star News, Peter Tatchell himself said, “Coke is sponsoring the Sochi Winter Olympics, without even a murmur of unease at the anti-gay and repressive policies of the Putin government. It is shameful acquiescence with oppression.
“By sponsoring the Sochi Winter Olympics…[Coca-Cola is] giving it legitimacy and credibility…It is shocking that Coca-Cola has not been willing to make any statement of support for LGBT equality or for other human rights in Russia.”
Activists hope that if major corporations speak out against the law, or refuse to sponsor the games, Russia will be economically affected, and therefore forced into striking down its homophobic legislation.
Currently a petition, campaigned for by All Out, is asking Coca-Cola to condemn the brutal anti-gay law, calling for its repeal and to come out in support of the Russian LGBT community.
Over the last few months of 2013, activists have attempted to gain support from corporations sponsoring the games as well as the International Olympics Committee (IOC). There has also been talk of boycotting the games altogether.
On December 17 Obama sent a clear message when he announced the inclusion of vocal LGBT rights advocate and former tennis player Billie Jean King in the delegation representing the US at the Olympics.