Gay activists protested outside Coca-Cola on Monday, circling the company's Atlanta headquarters with three trucks carrying large banners calling on the gay-friendly corporate titan to speak out against Russia's anti-gay laws.
The protest came 100 days ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Coke is among corporate sponsors pitching in $100 million to stage the event. All Out, the protest organizers, has used an online petition to call on Coke to condemn Russia's anti-gay laws and call for their repeal. By early Tuesday, the petition collected more than 355,000 supporters.
“Coke is an incredibly important position of power and has the ability to influence the International Olympic Committee, other sponsors, and Russian leaders,” says All Out Executive Director Andre Banks. “The safety and dignity of Russians, athletes, and fans is in doubt as long as Russia’s anti-gay laws are intact. Olympic sponsors have a moral obligation to speak out now. As one of the largest Olympic sponsors Coca-Cola should take a strong stand against Russia’s anti-gay laws ahead of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. We urge them to speak out against the anti-gay propaganda law and call for a repeal before the Olympics, donate funds to Russian human rights defenders, and ask the Olympic committee to change the rule so future Olympics can only happen in countries that fully respect equality.”
The trucks carried banners emblazoned with “Coca-Cola,” “Don's Stay Bottled Up” and “Speak Out Against Russia's Anti-Gay Laws.”
Coke did not respond to a request for comment from Project Q. The company pointed the AJC to an earlier statement:
“We support the core values of the Olympic Movement – excellence, friendship and respect – and are proud to continue our role in helping to make the Olympics a memorable experience for athletes, fans and communities all around the world. We are engaging with the International Olympic Committee on this important matter.”
The company routinely participates in the Atlanta Pride parade and scores a perfect 100 on the Corporate Equality Index, an HRC ranking that grades companies on how they address LGBT workplace policies, benefits and consumers.