Coca-Cola Criticized For Banning Homophobic Slurs in Winter Olympics Campaign (VIDEO)

Jan 28, 2014 09:27 AM EST | By Dina Exil

Coca-Cola's new social media campaign for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia has been criticized for preventing users from typing in "words associated with homosexuality."

According to the Huffington Post, "Share a Coke with..." campaign will allow users to type in a personalized message that can then be virtually printed on a can of Coke. Users can also share the message with friends and followers on social media.

However, the can displays an awkward error message if anyone attempts to type in the word "gay" or the word "homo."

The site responds with a message stating: "Oops, let's pretend you didn't just try that. Please try another name."

The words "straight" and "hetero" are both accepted. The beverage company is being accused of downplaying its sponsorship of the Sochi Winter Olympics to avoid upsetting gay rights activists.

The scandal led to Coca-Cola being dropped from the Brand of the Year at the Out in the City and G3 awards, which promotes diversity and equality. Coca-Cola has also been criticized for discriminating against the gay community.

"It is bitterly disappointing that Coca-Cola has not listened to the collective voice of the global gay community who are horrified by the government's anti-gay and repressive policies," said Sarah Garrett, the managing director of the company that produces the awards. "Brands like Coke should be making a stand against the demonisation of gay people by withdrawing sponsorship for the Winter Olympics. Refusing to do so is a slap in the face to the international gay community."

The Associated Press reported that last year Russia's government passed a law criminalizing "gay propaganda." There have been several images of Olympic security guards attacking gay rights protesters, who were also wearing a uniform displaying the Coca Cola logo.

Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, who is a member of president Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, has reportedly claimed that there were no gays living in the city, but gays were allowed to attend the upcoming games.

All visitors are welcome in the city and should not fear the anti-gay laws, Putin said and added that he had a few gay friends himself and was a fan of Elton John, an openly gay musician.

According to Hindustan Times, this year's games will feature 3,000 athletes from more than 80 countries will be competing in 98 medal events.

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