Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws, Democracy, and Corporations

I’m subscribed to AllOut, and have been receiving at least one email a week from them recently about Russia’s anti-gay laws.  Here is the latest:

Dear Stephanie,

Coca-Cola’s running scared! 125,000 of us have asked them to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws, and they’re feeling the pressure. They say they need more time to decide and will answer next week.

Coca-Cola will only speak out against the laws if they judge there’s a major threat to their worldwide reputation. Andwe’ve hatched a plan to show them that’s exactly what’s happening.

On Monday, we could surround their US HQ with trucks pulling billboards that say: “Coca-Cola, speak out now.” Imagine the reaction of the executives heading out for lunch when the trucks roar past!

If we all come together to raise $8,000 in the next 24 hours, we can hire 3 huge advertising trucks to circle Coca-Cola HQ on Monday. Can you chip in right now?

Olympics sponsors like Coca-Cola are investing billions in the Olympics and the Russian economy. That gives them huge power to influence the decisions made by Russian politicians.

If Coca-Cola calls for an end to the anti-gay laws, and other sponsors like McDonalds and Samsung follow, it will cause a huge headache for President Putin. It could lead to an end of the anti-gay laws for good.

Coca-Cola has financial power over Russia – and as consumers, we have financial power over Coca-Cola. And by chipping in a few dollars, euros or pounds each, we could buy $8,000 dollars worth of billboard trucks – enough to turn the heads of Coca-Cola executives and show them staying silent could cost them money and ruin their Olympic glow. Click here to donate:

If we hit our goal, any extra funds donated will help power our campaign to end the anti-gay crackdown in Russia all the way to the Olympics in about 100 days time.

All Out members have gotten huge companies to do the right thing before – so we stand a real chance of moving Coca-Cola. In 24 hours, we got Apple to get rid of a dangerous “gay cure” mobile app from their store. And together, we pressured MTV Brazil to end its partnership with a violently anti-gay, anti-trans website.

Let’s stand now with millions of lesbian, gay, bi and trans Russians who are under attack from their own government. We need to move super-fast if we’re going get the mobile billboards circling Coca-Cola HQ on Monday so please donate now:

Thanks for going All Out,

Andre, Guillaume, Hayley, Jeremy, Leandro, Marie, Sara, Tile, Wesley and the rest of the All Out team.

So first things first:  as a Christian, I believe God loves everyone and shows His grace to everyone.  I think it is absolutely wrong that we treat anyone anywhere as a fourth-class citizen for any reason because God calls His people to love Him and love others.  It’s that simple.  Treating others with hatred and violence goes against the Gospel.

In my mind, Russia’s anti-gay laws, and the violence that has been spawned against the LGBTQ community there because of those laws, are an absolute human rights violation.  Under the Fundamental Principals of Olympism (Olympic Charter, pp. 11-12), Russia should be disqualified from holding the 2014 Winter Games:

6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender, or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

7. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.

Unfortunately, the IOC is being silent on the matter, which leaves us to decide if we will or will not support the Olympic Games in 2014.

But back to the AllOut email posted above.  AllOut is advocating another way around the IOC’s reticence to call human rights violations human rights violations.  The Olympics is expensive to hold, and relies on corporate sponsorships:

The Olympic Games are one of the most effective international marketing platforms in the world, reaching billions of people in over 200 countries and territories throughout the world.

Support from the business community is crucial to the staging of the Games and the operations of every organisation within the Olympic Movement.

Revenue generated by commercial partnerships accounts for more than 40% of Olympic revenues and partners provide vital technical services and product support to the whole of the Olympic Family.

By AllOut’s reasoning, if we here in America and in other parts of the world make a big enough stink to Coca-Cola and other corporate sponsors, those sponsors might take notice and withdraw their financial backing for the games.  Without this financial backing, Russia is either forced to give up their rights as the host country or change their anti-gay laws to reclaim corporate sponsorship.

On the one hand, I am completely for Russia being forced to give up her rights as Olympic host because of human rights violations.  The IOC shouldn’t have chosen Sochi at all, based on Russia’s track record for human rights violations.  (In hindsight, I don’t think Beijing should have been chosen as host for 2008, and I would not support the United States as Olympic host in the future for the same reasons) On the other hand, I am completely against Russian government being held hostage by corporations, especially United States corporations.

You know why?

Because I am against the United States going in to a sovereign nation and telling them what to do militarily; against those corporations holding  the government of a foreign sovereign nation hostage; and against those same corporations holding our own government hostage.

Corporations aren’t people.  Corporations don’t have a vote in government.  So why are corporations able to send money to politicians and lobby Congress on behalf of their special interests?  They may not be able to vote, but they control the people you and I vote for with their funding.  The people that are paid to represent you, the individual; me, the individual; and everyone else, as individuals, are getting money from corporations to  represent the issues those corporations want.

Should Coca-Cola and other companies speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws?  Personally, I think so, but Coca-Cola is a business.  It’s mission is to earn money, and if it decides that its best interest is to stay neutral in matters of morality, then so be it.  If I don’t like it, I can choose to not buy anything Coca-Cola makes (and I don’t).  What can do as a small-business owner is choose to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay laws, the violence those laws create, and any other issues that make me angry.  I can support like-minded businesses when purchasing my supplies and ingredients, and speak out against businesses that don’t support the same things I do and not buy materials from them.

But business needs to stay out of  government, especially American businesses in foreign governments.  I’m sorry, AllOut.  I can’t support this latest campaign.  Yes, I want corporations to speak out against what’s happening in Russia.  Yes, I’d like them to pull corporate sponsorship from the Olympic games.  But I want President Putin and Russia’s government to do the right thing because treating humans with love, care, and respect is the right thing to do, not because America is a big bully and corporations can hold governments hostage through the power of money.



About faithenvironmentcollide

Child of God. Follower of Christ. Wife to Jeff. Mom to Liam. Environmental steward. Writer. Reader. Researcher. View all posts by faithenvironmentcollide

One response to “Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws, Democracy, and Corporations

  • K.W. Leslie

    I don’t support AllOut’s idea for a different reason: I don’t believe it’ll work. Even if they can get the corporations to pull out of Olympic sponsorship, and thus the Olympics to pull out of Russia, it’s not gonna provoke the Russians to change their laws. Prejudice isn’t based on economics. It’s based on fear, which is a far greater motivator than money.

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