You may recall that last month we reported on popular Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin, and his remarks to a cheering crowd in which he suggested that gays deserved to be burned alive in furnaces.
Well, Okhlobystin is the creative director of Euroset, the largest phone retailer in Europe, and a coalition of more than 15 Russian LGBT organizations have asked Apple to stop selling phones with Euroset, Mother Jones reports:
In an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook dated January 5, the LGBT rights coalition emphasized the dangerous potential of hate speech in an already volatile environment: "[Okhlobystin's] statements have been enthusiastically published by the Kremlin's propaganda press and distributed across entire Russia just adding additional fuel to the rampant homophobic campaign that already resulted in at least 26 murders and countless hate crimes against Russian LGBT population [sic]."
The letter calls on Cook to "set Apple as an example of a corporate citizen who supports basic human rights."
Activists are turning to Western suppliers like Apple after getting little response from Okhlobystin's employer.
The coalition says it also plans to reach out to Google, Samsung, and other companies that do business with Euroset.
Some are calling this Apple's best ad ever. The video in the ad was shot entirely on an iPhone 5S and the ad is a shout-out to those creative types who might feel a bit "misunderstood" over the holidays but still want to connect with their families.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
Apple CEO Tim Cook accepted Auburn University's Lifetime Achievement Award from the College of Human Sciences on December 10. In his speech, Cook spoke about the values that guide Apple and that guide him personally - his belief in putting an end to racism upholding equality and eliminating anti-LGBT discrimination, and achieving justice in immigration reform.
Cook also said it is time to pass ENDA:
"These values have also recently guided us to support legislation that demands equality and nondiscrimination for all employees regardless of who they love. This legislation, known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I have long believed in this and Apple has implemented protections for employees even when the laws did not. Now is the time to write these basic principles of human dignity into the book of law."
Watch his full speech, AFTER THE JUMP...
Becca Gorman, of Sudbury, Massachusetts, got a bit of a surprise while doing research for a high school project last week. When she looked up the word 'gay' in her MacBook Pro laptop's dictionary, the first two definitions weren't too unexpected: "1 (of a person, esp. a man) homosexual," "2 lighthearted and carefree." But the third definition shocked her: "informal foolish; stupid: making students wait for the light is kind of a gay rule."
"At first, I was kind of in disbelief," the Lincoln-Sudbury High sophomore told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB. Gorman's parents are a lesbian couple, and she was amazed to hear a slur that had been thrown around in high school included in a major company's electronic dictionary. "I felt like they had to take care of it," she said. So she emailed off a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook:
"I assume that you are a pro-gay company, and would never intend for any one of your products to be as offensive as this definition was. Even with your addition of the word informal, this definition normalizes the terrible derogatory twist that many people put on the word 'gay.'"
As ABC reported, Gorman received a call from Apple only an hour after she sent the email:
"They told me it's so hard to track the dictionaries they're getting sources from," said Gorman. The representative was also shocked at the offensive definition, and that the company would look into the problem.
Earlier this month, Cook penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal encouraging Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection," Cook said in his opinion piece. "But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves. When that happens, we undermine people's potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals' talents."
For now, even though the company Cook leads has robust non-discrimination policies, the questionable definition of 'gay' in its dictionary app persists. In iOS7, the company's most recent mobile operating system, the third definition of 'gay' at least mentions that it is both "informal" and "often offensive." That's a start, but Apple still has a ways to go, and Gorman is committed to making sure the company expunges the definition.
"I feel like we're going to have to make a bigger deal about it before they actually act on it," she said.
Watch ABC News' report, AFTER THE JUMP...
Apple CEO Tim Cook has written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal urging Congress to pass ENDA.
After highlighting Apple's non-discrimination policy and emphasizing that it is great for business, Cook writes, in part:
We urge senators to support the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and we challenge the House of Representatives to bring it to the floor for a vote.
Protections that promote equality and diversity should not be conditional on someone's sexual orientation. For too long, too many people have had to hide that part of their identity in the workplace.
Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection. But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves. When that happens, we undermine people's potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals' talents.
So long as the law remains silent on the workplace rights of gay and lesbian Americans, we as a nation are effectively consenting to discrimination against them.
Congress should seize the opportunity to strike a blow against such intolerance by approving the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.
Cook, who is famously private about his personal life, was called "the most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley" by Gawker at the time he was named CEO shortly before Steve Jobs' death. He has not spoken about that publicly.