UK: Gay rights activists campaign Sochi Olympic sponsor McDonald’s in Sunderland

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Gay rights activists in Sunderland have campaigned outside a McDonald’s restaurant, urging the Sochi Olympic sponsors to speak out over Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

According to Sunderland Echo, about a dozen supporters took to the High Street in West Sunderland to campaign outside McDonald’s.

One of the organisers, 22-year-old Sam Willey, said: “What we’re trying to do is push them to at least accept Russia is persecuting gay people.

“It’s not necessarily to say they should pull out of their sponsorship but to speak out.

“They are paying a lot of money for the Olympics, and the least they could do is a little bit more to call for action.

“A lot of us saw the Dispatches documentary, and that really shocked a lot of people to the core.”
Sunderland Pride chairman Ryan Houston also joined the demonstration, saying: “I think this highlights what we take for granted in the North East, and we support the work they are doing.”

The protest backed an international campaign called All Out, which states no person should have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love.”

A Spokesperson for McDonald’s has responded to campaigners against its sponsorship of the Olympic Games, saying: “We are aware that some activists are targeting Olympic sponsors to voice their concerns regarding the Russian LGBT legislation.

“McDonald’s supports human rights, the spirit of the Olympics and all the athletes who’ve worked so hard to compete in the Games.

“We believe the Olympic Games should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and athletes.”

Coca-Cola and McDonald’s both stated in the past that they do not condone the anti-gay laws, and that they think they contradict the Olympic charter, but in a similar sentiment to the IOC last year, do not think the games should be relocated away from Sochi.