A coalition of 40 human rights groups have issued a joint letter to the top ten corporate sponsors of the Sochi Olympics which demands that they denounce Russia’s abuses against LGBT people. Via press release:
Corporate sponsors of the Sochi Winter Olympics should act now to urge Russia to halt the rising tide of discrimination, harassment and threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, 40 of the world’s leading human rights and LGBT groups said today, in an unusual joint open letter. The letter to all of the leading sponsors of the Sochi Olympics asks them to use their leverage as underwriters of the 2014 Winter Games in a variety of concrete ways.
The groups urged sponsors to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, which violates the Olympic Charter’s principle of non-discrimination, and to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to undertake systemic reforms to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in future host countries. “Time is running out for the sponsors to take a clear stand in defense of Olympic values,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “These companies are sponsoring an Oympics marred by ugly discrimination and serious rights abuses. They should speak out forcefully for equality and human rights.”
The joint letter is addressed to the 10 TOP Sponsors of the Sochi Games (members of “The Olympic Partner” (TOP) Program)–Atos, Coca Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa. The Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch and several other groups have engaged with the sponsors for nearly a year to urge them to act on abuses.
Among the groups in the coalition: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights Campaign, Athlete Ally, GLAAD, Family Equality Council, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Including in the requests for action, the letter asks that Sochi’s top corporate sponsors address LGBT rights in their Olympic advertising.