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Gay Group Wants Coca-Cola to Cork Russia’s Strict Anti-Gay Law

Gay rights protesters demonstrated outside Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters today.

Gay rights protesters demonstrated outside Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters today.

Gay rights group “All Out” picketed Coca-Cola’s Atlanta, Ga.Headquarters today (Oct. 28) to urge the soft-drink maker to protest Russia’s strict anti-gay laws ahead of the 2014 winter Olympic Games. Coke is a major Olympic sponsor.

The company is on the bubble over the issue after meeting with the group last week and promising to release a statement.

But it missed its initial deadline of last Thursday (Oct. 24) and the group is still waiting. Coke said it will have a statement this week.

“Coke is an incredibly important position of power and has the ability to influence the International Olympic Committee, other sponsors, and Russian leaders,” Andre Banks, the group’s executive director and co-founder said.

To keep the company focused on the issue, All Out hired three billboard trucks to circled Coke’s global headquarters building.

cocacola-gayprotest

The trucks bore a message urging the company to demand a repeal of the nation’s anti-gay laws before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The protest began at 8am and continued for the entire day. In addition to the protest, the group said it’s 140,000 members sent messages to Coke’s Chief Executive with a set of demands.

They want the company to call for a repeal of the Russian laws before the games begin, make a donation to Russian human rights groups, and lobby for a change in Olympic rules to only hold games in countries that respect human rights.

“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,” Banks said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly told the International Olympic Committee that participants and guests at the games will feel comfortable regardless of “nationality, race or sexual orientation.”

“We’re glad President Putin says he accepts Olympics participants and spectators regardless of their sexual orientation — but it’s not enough,” said Banks.

In June, Putin signed a bill into law banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” The measure is so broad it can be used to halt gay pride marches, gay groups and gay literature in the face of hefty fines.

Billboard trucks circled Coke's Atlanta headquarters building all day.

Billboard trucks circled Coke’s Atlanta headquarters building all day.

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