On Saturday December 21 ten human rights activists launched a surprise demonstration against Coca-Cola, at the Coca-Cola truck marketing event in Brighton, United Kingdom. The group were demanding that Coca-Cola, as a sponsor of the coming Olympics in Sochi, break their silence on Russia’s homophobic laws. This week, Coca-Cola published official photos of part of the demonstration via their CokeZone website, which can be seen via the hosting service they used, Click-it (that’s the event service all the Coca-Cola truck photos are on, see everyone else’s shared on Twitter here).
The placards read: “Olympic sponsors break your silence on LGBTQ+ Russia!”, “Defend LGBTQ+ people in Russia!” and “Demand protection for LGBTQ+ Russians!”.
We wonder if these demo photos will remain online as attention is drawn to them worldwide, or whether Coca-Cola will seek to silence the demonstrators’ call for equal rights. [EDIT] The photos WERE available via these URLs, but have today (30 December 2013) been replaced with a generic one:
Photo of anti-Coca-Cola demo published by Coca-Cola at https://ck3.clickit-inc.com/Social/Viewer?id=Q8PZ3XQ~3~1~46997&r=t [now replaced with generic pic]
Photo of anti-Coca-Cola demo published by Coca-Cola 2 [now replaced with generic pic] at https://ck3.clickit-inc.com/Social/Viewer?id=Q8PZ3XQ~1~1~46997&r=t
Photo of anti-Coca-Cola demo published by Coca-Cola 3 [now replaced with generic pic] at https://ck3.clickit-inc.com/Social/Viewer?id=Q8PZ3XQ~2~1~46997&r=t
Unfortunately the URLs are not available in Google’s cache.
Whilst Coca-Cola may be the “best place to work for LGBT equality“, they seek to benefit financially from sponsoring an event in a country which actively oppresses LGBTQ+ people through new anti-gay laws.
Since Putin passed the law against the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors”, Russian LGBTQ+ citizens have seen homophobic and transphobic violence against them increase, whilst police stand by or even arrest the victims of assault. These laws victimise LGBTQ+ people and validate violence towards us in a country where people are increasingly angry at a multitude of oppressive measures from the government.
As Olympic sponsors, Coca-Cola and other sponsors are in a strong position where a statement of solidarity with Russian LGBTQ+ people, and explicitly against the anti-gay laws in Russia, would put pressure on Putin and his government to reconsider. Coca-Cola should use its sponsorship to raise awareness of the plight of Russian LGBTQ+ people, as its current silence makes Coca-Cola complicit in the abuse of LGBTQ+ people.
You can help raise awareness and put pressure on Coca-Cola by sharing this post,
sharing the photos linked above on Facebook and Twitter, and sign a petition such as this one to demand Coca-Cola speak out. We’ll also be targeting other sponsors and demonstrating at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, so keep in touch with us via Facebook at http://facebook.com/russiawithlovebrighton
Here’s me protesting at the Coca-Cola truck after we did the official Coca-Cola photo shoot!
The demonstration was organised by trade unionists, members of The Socialist Party, and individuals.
Finally, in case there’s any doubt, here’s the card they gave me at the demo with the download code for the pictures: