Braving a thunderstorm and high humidity, LGBT activists are rallying in New York City’s Times Square right now to draw attention to their “Dump Coke” campaign. Coca-Cola is accused of sponsoring hate because the international conglomerate is sponsoring the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. President Vladimir Putin is waging a war on gays, and has signed a law essentially making any expression of homosexuality, even holding hands or kissing, illegal.
Holding signs that read “Coca-Cola sponsors Russian hate,” Homophobia tastes bad — dump Coke,” and “Coke: Don’t sponsor hate,” the activists were mobilized by Queer Nation and RUSA LGBT. A reported 75 to 100 protesters turned out, despite the weather.
“By sponsoring the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Coca-Cola is associating its brands with state-sanctioned gay-bashing,” Queer Nation co-founder Alan Klein said via a press release. “Coca-Cola is sacrificing the safety and security of Russian LGBT people for profit – a position that opposes fundamental Olympic principles, runs counter to the International Olympic Committee charter, and that will tarnish its global image for decades to come.”
“Sponsoring the Games gives legitimacy to the host nation and that is exactly what Coca-Cola did when it sponsored the 1936 Games in Nazi Germany. We hope that Coca-Cola does not ignore its own history and does the right thing by refusing to support another regime that targets groups for hatred.”
“Nations compete for the privilege of hosting the Games and Russia has squandered that privilege by targeting LGBT Russians for discrimination and violence,” RUSA LGBT founder and co-president Yelena Goltsman added. “With its sponsorship of the Games, Coca-Cola supports the Russian government’s LGBT discrimination.”
The groups are demanding Coke:
- Withdraw its sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Games in Russia.
- Release a statement in English and Russian that condemns workplace discrimination, harassment, and bullying directed at customers and employees based on gender identity and sexual orientation
- Publish and publicize its LGBT employment policies on its Russian website in Russian and on physical bulletin boards and websites at all Coca-Cola owned and operated facilities.
- Conduct periodic company-wide sensitivity trainings about its LGBT employment policies worldwide.
- Institute a long-range policy to widely distribute its LGBT employment policies in human resources documentation and internal communications at all owned and operated facilities worldwide.
- Require that all Coca-Cola bottlers, distributors and vendors implement LGBT employment policies as a condition of their contract with The Coca-Cola Company.
The activists’ posters are especially effective against the Times Square advertising by Coca-Cola.
All photos by Scott Wooledge/Memeographs
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