#sfbeta endorses the the Boycott of Coca-Cola and calls on other startups to do the same.
Coca-Cola is a signature sponsor of the 2014 Olympic Games, which have come under intense scrutiny due the fierce anti-gay legislation recently enacted in host country Russia.
The anti-gay law has unleashed a series of violent actions against the country’s LGBT community, with police often joining homophobic aggressors in contributing to, rather than curtailing, hate-inspired violence.
Despite the public outcry against the law, which Brian Burke, former Toronto Maple Leaves General Manager, has called “repugnant,” Coca-Cola refuses to withdraw their sponsorship of the games, and remains silent on the controversial law itself.
Reactions against Coca-Cola have been fierce and swift, driven largely by the LGBT and allied communities. A Facebook page called Boycott 2014 Olympic Games in Russia has attracted 55,000 likes, whose frequent posts attracted the attention of television pundit Keith Olbermann:
On August 29, demonstrators gathered in Times Square, crushing Coca-Cola cans and pouring the sugary drink conspicuously down city drains. Journalist Craig Takeuchi reports, via the slightly-ironically-titled Straight.com,
Queer Nation NY and RUSA LGBT staged a demonstration in Times Square on August 29 to protest Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The activist organizations stated in a news release that they are demanding that the company withdraw its sponsorship.
“By sponsoring the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Coca-Cola is associating its brands with state-sanctioned gay-bashing,” Queer Nation cofounder Alan Klein stated. “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.”
Klein also noted that Coca-Cola also sponsored the Olympics in Nazi Germany in 1936.
Homophobia has no place in a just and civil society, and #sfbeta condemns the individuals who practice it, and corporations that condone it.
Besides, companies should know better: in the leadup to the 2012 United States Presidential Election, Aimee Castenell received over 115,000 signatures in a petition protesting Google’s sponsorship of ultra-conservative CPAC conference, and enjoined Google: “Don’t sponsor bigotry.” Aligning oneself with homophobia, whether in the form of a country, a conference, or a commentator, is never cool.
As an active voice in the startup and entrepreneurship community, #sfbeta calls for an end to Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.
To co-sign your support (or express a rebuttal), please share your perspective in the comments below.