With protests organized by All Out members in 20 cities around the world, the global outcry against Russia’s anti-gay laws is growing. Three US Olympic sponsors have now denounced the Russian laws – telecommunication giant AT&T, followed by DeVry University, an education company, and the yogurt maker Chobani. AT&T called on all other Olympic sponsors to join them.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also joined the global consensus by affirming that Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter commits the IOC to reject discrimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
“By speaking out against the anti-gay laws in Russia, AT&T has urgently increased the pressure on other Olympic sponsors to break their silence before the Games begin,” said Andre Banks, executive director of All Out. “All Out members gathered yesterday in 20 cities around the world. Governments and other companies are speaking out too. If sponsors like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s continue to stay silent, the pressure will only deepen, causing permanent damage to their hard-won reputations as champions of equality. They can’t run out the clock on this issue — lives are at stake and until they speak out, this conversation will continue to dominate the airwaves.”
Additional footage of the violent groups targeting gay men and lesbian women in Russia have been revealed, shedding a light on the dangerous levels of homophobia in the country just a day before the Winter Olympics start in Sochi.
Following multiple calls to speak out, Olympic sponsors have continued to stay silent about the impact Russia’s anti-gay laws are having on Russians and anyone who visits Russia to participate in the Olympics. In October 2013, All Out hired billboard trucks to circle Coca-Cola Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and delivered a petition of more than 150,000 members calling on Coca-Cola to denounce Russia’s anti-gay laws.
In August 2013, All Out members delivered a 300,000-person petition to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, leading the IOC to publicly state for the first time ever that discrimination based on sexual orientation is incompatible with the Olympic movement.