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LGBT Advocates Pressure Olympic Sponsor Coca-Cola to Condemn Russia's Anti-gay Crackdown

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Over the past week or so, Coca-Cola executives have been quietly meeting to decide whether or not to speak out against Russia's horrific anti-gay laws. LGBT advocates and organizations, meanwhile, have begun pressuring the company through social media blasts and an online petition in the hopes of getting the major Olympic sponsor to stand firmly on the side of equality and human rights.

This isn't the first time that Coke has had to deal with the outcry surrounding Russia's anti-gay crackdown however. Back in August, in response to a Queer Nation protest of Coke in Times Square, the company issued a statement defending its sponsorship of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and touting its own LGBT inclusively in the past. The statement also included a vague condemnation of any "human rights abuses, intolerance, or discrimination" that might be going on around the world. But so far, the company has remained silent on directly addressing Russia's anti-gay regime. That may very well change this week if supporters can show Coke how many people want the company to speak out against the oppressive laws.

Other Olympic sponsors, including McDonalds and Samsung, are waiting to hear what Coke has to say this week. Because Coke is such an influential mega-corporation, the company's decision may very well set off a domino effect that pushes other international sponsors to follow suit.

Coca-Cola has been a fantastic LGBT corporate ally in the past, having received a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index every year since it was first launched in 2006. It's time for the company to once again step up as a leader in the fight for LGBT freedom and equality.

To sign the petition asking Coca-Cola to condemn Russia's brutal anti-gay laws, click HERE.  

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  1. The Coca Cola Company has been a supporter of black and gay civil rights, but also a violator of human rights. Typical of left-leaning two-faced bipolarity. Look at how great we are - but don't look at how evil we are.

    Posted by: Kev C | Oct 21, 2013 9:21:49 PM

  2. @Kev C: How does Coca-Cola violate human rights? (I'm not being snarky. Perhaps there is something I don't know.)

    As for the petition, I'm extremely uncomfortable with the notion that private, for-profit companies should be encouraged to engage in attempts to change laws in foreign countries. Don't most of us hate it when companies here in the United States lobby to change/enact laws that affect us?

    Let for-profit companies concentrate on their mission: make money for stakeholders by providing goods or services. Leave international diplomacy and human rights issues to politicians and NGOs.

    Posted by: alex | Oct 21, 2013 9:43:10 PM

  3. Alex:
    Coca-Cola has a business decision to make.
    1) It can remain a sponsor of the Pogrom Olympics, and thereby piss off LGBT people, their friends, families, and allies all over the Western world.
    2) It can withdraw its sponsorship of the Olympics, which would mean breaking a contract, and so losing some money and also losing the high-profile exposure that money was supposed to buy.
    3) It can try to have its cake and eat it too, by lobbying the Russian government just like all major companies lobby just about all governments.

    Posted by: BABH | Oct 21, 2013 10:45:09 PM

  4. Our job this week is to help convince Coca-Cola that Option 1 will lose them more money in the long run than Option 2. Sign the petition, already.

    Posted by: BABH | Oct 21, 2013 10:47:45 PM

  5. I'm not buying it. I don't believe Coke is in a quandary or even holding internal discussions to decide whether to take public action on this issue. They bought the sponsorship and they're going to use it. If someone has hard facts to support the claim that Coke is actually considering action, please share it. I'll believe it when there's more credible reporting. Otherwise, this is wishful thinking.

    Posted by: Joe in Ct | Oct 21, 2013 11:12:09 PM

  6. @Alex, Coca-Cola is now openly supporting the event promoting hate and violence to gay people in Russia! It seems like you're very comfortable of companies getting momney from blood of gay people, but is uncomfortable with standing up against it!

    Posted by: litper | Oct 22, 2013 12:45:23 AM

  7. Alex, they operated in Apartheid South Africa. And in India, Coca Cola has diverted free water from farmers and citizens, causing water shortages, and polluted water with high levels of pesticides.

    Posted by: Kev C | Oct 22, 2013 1:02:04 AM

  8. "Coca-Cola is now openly supporting the event promoting hate and violence to gay people in Russia."

    That statement is wildly inaccurate and borders on libel.

    Coca-Cola is sponsoring the Olympic Games, which happens to be in Russia next year. Although the IOC should be more vocal, the Olympics certainly do not promote hate or violence.

    As for the petition, I refuse to call out a company that has always been supporters of our community because I still do not feel that a soft-drink maker should be actively involved in changing the laws of a sovereign nation.

    Posted by: alex | Oct 22, 2013 1:36:36 AM

  9. I've purchased a lot of Pepsi in the last month. They aren't a good corporation or anything, but they aren't sponsoring the Olympics, and that's my issue for the next half year.

    And I haven't set foot in a McDonald's. Part of that is due to their crappy Monopoly game which was a total rip-off last year compared to the year before. But it's mostly due to Sochi. Subway is much healthier, if you do it right.

    Posted by: Randy | Oct 22, 2013 1:59:49 AM

  10. Coca Cola is like any other company. It exists to make money. It makes Coke and whatever else, but the only judge of its success is profit. This is not good or bad, just the way the capitalist free market system works.

    Any meetings they are having are about how deal with the issues that came up in terms of maximizing profit. Will the whole thing blow over and almost all customers and potential customers not notice much? Will enough people associate Coke with being unfashionably anti-gay, or will they almost all still just associate Coke with Olympic athletes from all over the world and You Deserve A Break Today? Should we run lots of commercials with gay people getting married and toasting with Cokes, and boyfriends and girlfriends going skiing together or something, or just flash an image of an occasional gayish person in a couple of ads, or nothing? Should we run pro-gay ads in Europe and the US, and ignore the issue in China and Russia? If we lobby the Russian government, what issues are we bringing up and what consequences and what solutions? Etc.

    The petitions are helpful, but just a small part of the picture, and only of value in that they are another indication to Coke of the awareness of people of the gay issues in Russia.

    Posted by: emjayay | Oct 22, 2013 2:13:32 AM

  11. @Alex, just yesterday the senior Olympics official called anti-gay laws "marvellous". This is out and open support of hate!

    Posted by: litper | Oct 22, 2013 2:49:45 AM

  12. Coca Cola is a corporation. It is NOT an ally of human rights. It is ONLY an ally of increased profit (Coke decided to sponsor the Berlin Olympics in 1936 to increase profit.)

    Coke will condemn Russia if it is in Coke's financial interest to do so.

    No other way.

    If they refuse then we must make sure to remind everyone what a tarnished brand Coke is.

    Posted by: MaryM | Oct 22, 2013 4:17:48 AM

  13. Coca Cola is a corporation. It is NOT an ally of human rights. It is ONLY an ally of increased profit (Coke decided to sponsor the Berlin Olympics in 1936 to increase profit.)

    Coke will condemn Russia if it is in Coke's financial interest to do so.

    No other way.

    If they refuse then we must make sure to remind everyone what a tarnished brand Coke is.

    Posted by: MaryM | Oct 22, 2013 4:17:49 AM

  14. I switched to Pepsi and I've switched off McDonalds. It's easy. When I go to restaurants I ask what they serve, if it's Coke Products I tell them why I am not having any. And if Pepsi steps out of line I'll switch them off too. It hasn't been difficult at all.

    Posted by: Jeff | Oct 22, 2013 5:05:42 AM

  15. Oct 21 at 8:47 PM

    Want to support the athletes who have trained so hard to compete in the Winter Olympics?
    Want to send a message of support to the LGBT people of Russia?
    Not happy with Vladimir Putin's human rights abuses?

    Thank you!

    Posted by: Stephen Mead | Oct 22, 2013 7:29:57 AM

  16. I'm still worried about the safety of the Olympic athletes and participants, even though Putin says Russia's anti-gay law won't be a problem. Please sign my petition telling the IOC to develop a detailed plan about HOW they are going to help keep people safe in Sochi. I offered some suggestions about action steps the IOC could take in the petition. The petition is online at

    Posted by: Daniel McHugh | Oct 22, 2013 5:11:34 PM

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