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320,000+ petition Coke to condemn Putin’s ‘brutal anti-gay’ laws

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By Ben Bouckley+

23-Oct-2013
Last updated on 23-Oct-2013 at 12:18 GMT

SumOfUs.org organized the petition to 'trigger an earth-shattering domino effect'
SumOfUs.org organized the petition to 'trigger an earth-shattering domino effect'

Over 320,000 people have signed a petition calling on Coke to condemn Russia’s ‘draconian’ new laws on homosexuality ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

According to SumOfUs.org, the online campaign group organizing the petition , said top Coke executives will meet tomorrow to decide whether or not to comment on the Russian situation, since the company is an important Sochi sponsor as a ‘Worldwide Olympic Partner’.

Martin Caldwell, a UK-based campaigner for SumOfUs.org, told BeverageDaily.com: “Our understanding is that Coke is meeting on Thursday to decide whether to make a public statement. We also believe that Coke hasn’t said anything since the original [August 28] statement.”

‘Rising tide of anti-LGBT violence’

The petition – which gained 70,000 signatures in the last 24 hours alone – was mounted to oppose what organisers describe as a “rising tide of anti-LGBT violence and discrimination as a result of the country’s laws”.

Caldwell said Coke had historically shown a strong commitment to equality and human rights but needed to condemn what he said were “anti-gay laws” in Putin’s Russia.

“Coca-Cola is an incredibly important position of power and has the ability to influence both the International Olympic Committee and Russian leaders,” Joe Mirabella, director of communications for equality campaign platform All Out added.

“The safety and dignity of Russians, athletes, and fans is in doubt as long as Russia’s anti-gay laws are intact,” Mirabella added. “Olympic sponsors have a moral obligation to speak out now and demand an end to Putin’s human rights crackdown.”

Russia’s ban on the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors follows a July ban on gay and lesbian couples abroad – and unmarried individuals living in countries that permit same-sex marriages – adopting Russian-born children.

Carlsberg 'pleased' to be sponsoring Sochi

Opponents of the law allege it is drafted vaguely, and say it criminalizes parents telling kids that being gay is OK, and even prevents health officials giving information on safe same-sex intercourse.

Tourists and foreign nationals suspected by the police of being ‘pro gay’ can also be arrested and detained for up to 14 days.

Coke has remained silent over Sochi since August 28, and did not reply to a request for comment yesterday. In August the company insisted it was a “strong supporter” of the LGBT community and advocated for inclusion and diversity in its policies and practices.

Obliquely addressing controversy over its Sochi sponsorship, the firm said: “We believe a more positive impact can be made through continued involvement, rather than by sitting on the sidelines.”

Baltika Breweries is the ‘official beer supplier’ at Sochi and Carlsberg, became 100% owner of the Russian brewer last November. Asked for Carlsberg's position on the Russian government's stance, spokesman Ben Morton told BeverageDaily.com: “Carlsberg Group has breweries in over 30 countries across the globe. In each country in which we operate, we try and ensure that our local businesses become an active and responsible part of society.

 “Our Russian business, Baltika Breweries, is pleased to be sponsoring the Sochi Olympics and will play its part in ensuring that this is a true sporting event enjoyed by all.”

2 comments (Comments are now closed)

Prejudice in Russia

This is an unfortunate thing to say about an entire race, but the draconian conditions which prevailed in this country and its unfortunate satellites for so many years must have taken its toll. Civilized and informed behaviour has evolved in Western Europe over the period of psychological manipulation that was the hallmark of the Soviet Regime. How can the effects such a regressive formula for control and manipulation be eradicated and changed over night? We need to have a policy of zero tolerance towards this bigotry in order to advance this and countries like it into a modern and democratic perspective. Allowing such regimes to bask in the privileges enjoyed by more enlightened and progressive countries will just send out erroneous messages to these misguided and sadly, ignorant "dictators".

Please sign the petitions and help to reinforce the message that there is no place for unwarranted prejudice and unacceptable practices in a modern, enlightened world.

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Posted by Brian Gallagher
28 October 2013 | 20h40

Do more than just condemn the law

I think that Coka-Cola needs to do a lot more than just condemn Russia's anti-gay law. At the very least, they should work with the IOC to develop plans to protect Olympic athletes, participants, and spectators are at risk in Sochi. The IOC hasn't done enough (or anything) to protect Olympians from possible ramifications of the law. Sign the petition telling the "IOC to take strong and definitive action to protect all Olympic athletes, participants, and spectators from anti-gay harassment, discrimination, violence, and arrest at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia." Petition can be found online at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/change-the-anti-discrimination-clause-in-the-olympic-charters-so-it-includes-sexual-orientation.html

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Posted by Daniel McWarren
23 October 2013 | 21h51