Gay Rights Protesters Target Sochi Olympic Sponsors Coke, McDonalds and Samsung – Forbes

With exactly 100 days to go until the Sochi Olympics, gay rights protesters have launched a handful of social media campaigns against longtime sponsors Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Samsung, voicing concerns over Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

“Sochi potentially is the danger Games,” one marketing executive tells The Chicago Tribune. “With these major world events, companies are looking for a halo effect for the brand. Sochi is big and high profile but such events are becoming platforms for social and political protest.

The International Olympic Committee has already acknowledged that sponsors, who pay roughly $100 million for marketing rights, are concerned about the legislation’s impact.

“I have heard a lot from the sponsors, especially the American sponsors, of what they are afraid of might happen,” IOC marketing commission chairman Gerhard Heiberg told CNN. “I think this could ruin a lot for all of us.”

One current online campaign is calling for Coca-Cola executives to speak out against the anti-gay law.

By Monday, 350,000 people worldwide signed an online petition circulated by SumOfUs.org, a global consumer watchdog organization.

“Coca-Cola is an incredibly important position of power and has the ability to influence both the International Olympic Committee and Russian leaders,” Joe Mirabella, Director of

via Gay Rights Protesters Target Sochi Olympic Sponsors Coke, McDonalds and Samsung – Forbes.

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Actor Wentworth Miller says he’s gay, turns down Russian festival invite | Reuters

Aug 21 (Reuters) – Actor and screenwriter Wentworth Miller, best known for his leading role in Fox television drama “Prison Break,” came out as a gay man on Wednesday in a letter declining an invitation to attend a Russian film festival in light of Moscow’s recently adopted anti-gay laws.

Miller, 41, turned down an offer to attend the St. Petersburg International Film Festival as a “guest of honor” in a letter posted on the website of advocacy group GLAAD, which monitors media representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people and issues.

“Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes. However, as a gay man, I must decline,” Miller wrote to festival director Maria Averbakh.

Miller wrote that he was “deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government,” and did not want attend a festival in a country where “people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.”

via Actor Wentworth Miller says he’s gay, turns down Russian festival invite | Reuters.

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Putin Introduces Fines for Gay ‘Propaganda’ Aimed at Children – Businessweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law fining people who “propagate” homosexuality to children, a day after dozens of people were detained following a gay-pride parade in St. Petersburg.

The law introduces fines of 4,000 rubles ($122) to 5,000 rubles for individuals and 10 times those figures for public officials found guilty, according to a copy of the legislation posted to a government website yesterday. Fines for individuals who use mass media or the Internet to propagate homosexuality to minors rise to as much as 100,000 rubles.

Putin, who returned to the Kremlin for a third term as president last year, said in April that same-sex marriages don’t produce children and that Russia and Europe face demographic challenges from lower birth rates, though it’s his duty to protect the rights of people with “non-traditional” sexual orientations. The decision comes days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that denied benefits to same-sex couples and removed obstacles for gay weddings to resume in California.

Putin violated Russia’s international obligations by signing the law, which will be challenged at Russia’s Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights, Nikolai Alexeyev, a Russian gay-rights activist, wrote in a statement on GayRussia.eu.

‘Under-educated Electorate’

“By signing the law banning gay propaganda, President Putin may have won a local battle for the votes of his under-educated electorate,” Alexeyev wrote. “He lost the historical battle. History will prove that he committed a mistake that future generations won’t likely forgive.”

Opinion polls have shown limited tolerance among Russians for homosexuality. Last year, Moscow City Court upheld the city’s decision to ban gay-pride parades for the next 100 years.

The federal bill follows a similar ban on “propaganda” instituted last year in St. Petersburg, which was used two days ago in Russia’s second-largest city. The 58 people detained in St. Petersburg included eight who were opponents of same-sex marriages, the local Fontanka.ru news portal reported, citing city police. A leader of the event, Yury Gavrikov, was held overnight and will face administrative charges on July 4, the news service said.

The St. Petersburg law drew international outrage. American singer Madonna faced a 333 million-ruble fine earlier this year, later thrown out by a city court, after saying at a concert last year that gays and lesbians should be treated with dignity and tolerance.

Defended Record

Putin has defended Russia’s record on gay rights amid criticism from European countries. The bill Putin signed yesterday stigmatizes homosexuals and breaches the spirit of Russia’s commitments, including to the European Convention on Human Rights, Steffen Seibert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman, told reporters in Berlin last month.

“I want everyone to understand that in Russia there are no infringements on sexual minorities’ rights,” Putin said in Amsterdam in April. “They’re people, just like everyone else, and they enjoy full rights and freedoms.”

The federal amendments expanded on a law that protects children from pornography and other “harmful information.” The bill prohibits the distribution of information intended to promote or spread “non-traditional sexual orientations’” among minors, or a “distorted conception of the equivalence between traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships.”

The bill also prohibits the “obtrusive spreading of information about non-traditional sexual relationships that may arouse interest in such relationships.”

Russian ‘Mood’

Foreign citizens charged under the law face administrative arrests for as long as 15 days and deportation from Russia.

The federal government wasn’t behind regional initiatives to ban material promoting homosexuality, Putin said in April. They “reflect the mood of Russian society,” he said.

Some 48 percent of Russians believe the government should “definitely” prevent public displays or justifications of homosexuality, the independent Levada Center said May 17, citing a poll of 1,601 people conducted in April. The Moscow-based polling firm found 25 percent said the state should “probably” do so.

The same survey found 13 percent of people think homosexuals should face prosecution, while 38 percent said they should be “treated” for their homosexuality. Some 31 percent said gays and lesbians should be left alone.

via Putin Introduces Fines for Gay ‘Propaganda’ Aimed at Children – Businessweek.