Gay rights activists stage campaign against ‘shocking’ Coca-Cola sponsorship of Sochi Winter Olympics

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Gay rights activists interrupted a Coca-Cola christmas advertising campaign in London’s Covent Garden on Saturday, in opposition to the company’s recent sponsorship of the Sochi Winter Olympics despite anti-gay laws.

Peter Tatchell, alongside other campaigners, attempted to climb the roof of a Coca-Cola truck parked in the center of London before security guards pulled them down.

Tatchell, who coordinated the campaign, said: “Coke is sponsoring the Sochi Winter Olympics, without even a murmur of unease at the anti-gay and repressive policies of the Putin government. It is shameful acquiescence with oppression.

“By sponsoring the Sochi Winter Olympics, Coca-Cola is rewarding the Putin regime, giving it legitimacy and credibility.

“It is shocking that Coca Cola has not been willing to make any statement of support for LGBT equality or for other human rights in Russia.”

In August, Coca-Cola – alongside McDonald’s – had stated that they do not condone the anti-gay laws, but added that they did not think the games should be relocated away from Sochi.

Around a dozen protesters attended the campaign, including both the Peter Tatchell Foundation and the Out and Proud Diamond Group, who carried signs saying “Love Russia. Hate homophobia” and “Putin! Tyrant. Censor. Homophobe.”

Out and Proud spokesperson Edwin Sesange said: “Our protest was in support of all Russians – LGBT and straight – who are courageously resisting Putin’s authoritarian rule and who are striving for democracy and human rights.

“As Africans who have suffered homophobic persecution, we stand united with our Russian LGBT brothers and sisters. This is a global fight for LGBT equality.”

In August,  AllOut created a form allowing users to easily send a message to Coca Cola management urging them to speak out publicly against Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

President Vladimir Putin signed legislation in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors.