On Wednesday February 5th, thousands will gather in cities across the globe urging official Olympic sponsors (including McDonalds, Visa, and Coca-Cola) to speak out in support of gay, lesbian, bi, and trans Russians. Vancouver human rights supporters have a protest planned for Wednesday, February 5th — two days before the opening ceremonies — at the McDonald’s Restaurant at Main and Terminal, between 5:30pm and 6:00pm, with the intention of raising awareness of concerns to McDonalds, their customers, and Main Street commuters on their way home from work. The gathering is in conjunction with worldwide ‘Olympic Sponsors Global SpeakOut!’ protests happening on that same day. Information on events elsewhere can be found at www.allout.org/p6events
Arrests and prosecutions have already begun in Russia; since the passing of the Russian law forbidding “gay propaganda”, even wearing a rainbow pin is considered an arrestable offence. Those convicted can receive two weeks in jail and up to $1 million rubles (about $30,000) if prosecuted for promoting “non-traditional sexual relationships”, according to the legislation. The law’s passing has also created ‘permission’ for an increase in hate crimes throughout Russia. Amidst these human rights violations, groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch stated this week — in an open letter to the ten largest Olympic sponsors — a statement that included “LGBT people must not be targeted with violence or deprived of their ability to advocate for their own equality. As all eyes turn toward Sochi, we ask you to stand with us.”
Together, on Wednesday February 5, concerned people just like us will gather outside Olympic sponsors’ offices, and stores in cities all around the world – urging the sponsoring Corporations to speak out against the anti-gay laws and support the Olympic principle of non-discrimination.
Participants are asked to wear red (for love) and bring homemade signs that let McDonalds, their customers and evening commuters on Main Street know how you feel about what’s happening to our brothers and sisters in Russia.