Wednesday's protest against Coca-Cola's  sponsorship of the Sochi Games  (Pic: Queer Nation)

Wednesday’s protest against Coca-Cola’s
sponsorship of the Sochi Games
(Pic: Queer Nation)

Coca-Cola has responded to protests against its sponsorship of the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Sochi over Russia’s anti-gay laws.

On Wednesday, LGBT activists poured bottles of the popular soft drink down New York City drains in a demonstration in Times Square organised by Queer Nation.

“By sponsoring the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Coca-Cola is associating its brands with state-sanctioned gay-bashing,” said Queer Nation co-founder Alan Klein in a statement.

“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,” he said.

The multinational beverage company responded on its website by insisting that it is “one of the world’s most inclusive brands”.

It said: “We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices. We do not condone human rights abuses, intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world.”

The company explained that “as an Olympic sponsor since 1928, we believe the Olympic Games are a force for good that unite people through a common interest in sports, and we have seen firsthand the positive impact and long-lasting legacy they leave on every community that has been a host”.

Coca-Cola also pointed out its “actions and policies demonstrating our support for the LGBT community”. These include its employee diversity and anti-discrimination polices and its financial support for Pride events.

Queer Nation was unmoved by the statement and reiterated its demand that the company withdraw its sponsorship of the 2014 Games in Russia.

“Coca-Cola made a horrendous error when it sponsored the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany,” said Queer Nation. “This company knows better and it must not sponsor any Olympic Games in Russia as long as Russia’s anti-gay laws remain in force.”

It also noted out that the company’s non-discrimination policies are only guidelines outside of the US.

Queer Nation further demanded that Coca-Cola enforce these policies around the world to cover all employees and also extend the policies to its bottlers, distributors and vendors.

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