LGBT rights advocates to urge Procter & Gamble to drop Olympics sponsorship

Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

CINCINNATI, Ohio — LGBT rights advocates will deliver nearly 200,000 signatures to Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati on Wednesday, urging the maker of everything from perfumes to pet food to end its sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics in anti-gay Russia.

The petition also targets other Olympics sponsors, such as Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Samsung and Visa. It tells the companies that their support of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is a tacit endorsement of state-sponsored homophobia.

Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Do these companies want to be tied to an Olympics where LGBT athletes and spectators are likely to face harsh violence, prison, and brutality?” reads the petition started by Julianne Howell, a resident of Loveland, Ohio.

“It’s time for these companies to put their support for LGBT people first, and send a message to Russia that their anti-gay laws are not only contrary to basic human rights, but fly in the face of the spirit of the Olympic Games, which celebrate human dignity and community above all else,” said Howell.

Russia is in the midst of a government- and church-fueled wave of anti-gay brutality that includes passage of a law banning nearly any mention of homosexuality. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken out against LGBT people, and people in the country have killed, beaten and humiliated those perceived as gay.

The International Olympic Committee has said athletes and spectators will be safe from Russia’s anti-gay violence, but the Russian government has made no move to rescind the law against its own people.

President Barack Obama has spoken out against anti-gay violence in Russia but has said the United States will not boycott the Russian Olympics.

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Procter & Gamble is in the crosshairs for LGBT activists because the consumer-products company is a major advertiser on Russian TV, which is state-owned and plays a significant role in stoking anti-gay bias.

A Russian TV commentator recently suggested that the hearts of gay people killed in car accidents should be burned.

A Procter & Gamble spokeswoman contacted by the Cincinnati Enquirer refused to address her company’s stand on Russia’s law and violence against LGBT people but noted its record in the United States on behalf of LGBT causes.

Procter & Gamble scored a 90 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent rating of U.S. employers, and it was a major sponsor of Cincinnati’s Pride celebration in June.

The company owns dozens of brands, including Ivory, Safeguard, Pantene, Vidal Sassoon, Crest, Scope, Tampax, Charmin, Pampers, Bounce, Bounty, Mr. Clean, Cascade and Duracell.

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