AT&T condemns Russia’s anti-gay law ahead of Sochi Olympics

Major Olympics sponsors Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald’s continue to remain silent on Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, which passed last year and restricts the freedoms of citizens, regardless of their sexuality, to publicly support gay rights or discuss gay issues. Step in AT&T, then — which isn’t a major sponsor but has backed the US team for 30 years — to take a very public stand against the law.

In a statement titled “A Time For Pride and Equality” on the company’s blog, the telecommunications behemoth reiterated their support for LGBT rights and slammed Russia’s law for the impact it’s having on LGBT citizens:

“AT&T has a long and proud history of support for the LGBT community in the United States and everywhere around the world where we do business. We support LGBT equality globally and we condemn violence, discrimination and harassment targeted against LGBT individuals everywhere. Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society.”

The company also took the opportunity to indirectly call out the Olympics’ major sponsors, who were requested by the HRC to take action and publically stand up for LGBT equality — though none currently have.

“AT&T is not an IOC sponsor, so we did not receive the HRC request. However, we are a long-standing sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), we support HRC’s principles and we stand against Russia’s anti-LGBT law.

Unlike AT&T, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa will all do business in Russia, and will continue to do so following the Olympics. Any condemnation of a widely supported Russian law could negatively affect their business prospects — though it’s something of a Catch-22 as not supporting LGBT rights or speaking out against the law could potentially see a backlash in other countries where LGBT equality is valued.

Regardless, AT&T’s public support of LGBT rights should be applauded, and will hopefully inspire other large businesses to follow suit as the Sochi Olympics get under way this week. AT&T cleasrly feel the same way, ending their post with: “We also want to be on record with our support for the LGBT community, and we hope that others involved with the Olympic Games will do the same.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He is usually found with a game controller in one hand and a smartphone in the other, and can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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