McDonald’s Corp. was the target of multiple protests across the world Wednesday, with demonstrators taking the Olympics’ global sponsor to task two days before the Winter Games open in Sochi.
In London, about 150 people rallying outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s office urged McDonald’s and the International Olympic Committee’s other major sponsors to speak out against Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda.” The activists there said they plan to deliver a petition signed by more than 100,000 people to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant.
In Paris, about 50 people gathered in front of one of the fast-food chain’s restaurants in the Place de la République to chant, “No to Russia’s anti-gay law!” and to carry banners with slogans such as “Russia we are with you but we’re against your anti-gay law.”
In downtown St. Petersburg, hundreds of kilometres north of Sochi, about a dozen Russian gay rights activists also protested. Two unfurled banners reading, “Berlin 1936 Sochi 2014,” referring to the Olympic Games held in Nazi Germany. Single-person protests are legal in Russia, and the two activists holding signs were spaced far enough apart that neither was arrested.
Protesters also gathered in Jerusalem, as the New York-based advocacy group All Out planned demonstrations there and in several other cities worldwide, including Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Olympics.
The protests came as a United Nations committee on children’s rights urged Russia to repeal the law, saying it encourages discrimination and violence. The committee said the stated intent of the law is to protect children, but “vague definitions of propaganda lead to the targeting and ongoing persecution of the country’s (gay) community, including abuse and violence, in particular against underage ... rights activists.”
A coalition of 40 international groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, has sent an open letter to the 10 biggest Olympic sponsors urging them to run ads promoting equality for LGBT people.