Protests demand Sochi sponsors take on gay rights

Protests are being held in 19 cities around the world demanding Olympic sponsors "speak out now" about anti-gay laws in Russia.

LONDON: Protests are being held in 19 cities around the world demanding Olympic sponsors “speak out now” about anti-gay laws in Russia, the host country of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Sponsors including McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa are being targeted by the gay-rights campaign after Russian president Vladimir Putin introduced laws against “gay propaganda.”

The organization All Out is organizing the protests, which are being held on Wednesday. A London demonstration was set to take place at 6 pm local time on Downing Street.

The Facebook group for the London protest states that the “sponsors think they can stay silent and run down the clock, but that won't work if each of us – their customers – demand that they stand with us.”

All Out has argued that the sponsors have invested millions in the Olympics and billions in the Russian economy, and as a result, they have “huge economic leverage” with Russia's government.

The goal of the campaign is to pressure the sponsors to speak out in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Russians and help bring an end to “discriminatory laws” in the country.

The Russia-based protest will take place in St. Petersburg. Those who are not able to attend any of the demonstrations being held in 19 major cities are being encouraged to protest outside offices and stores of sponsors and Russian embassies.

Putin claimed that gay people will be welcome in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, which start on Friday, as long as they do not "promote homosexuality and pedophilia among minors.”

This story originally appeared on the website of Marketing.

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