Human Rights Groups Urge Visa To Speak Against Russia’s Anti-Gay Law
Two human rights groups are urging Visa officials to speak out against Russia’s highly controversial anti-gay law, as the credit card company is one of the 10 marquee sponsors of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, BuzzFeed reports.
Courage Campaign and Democracy of America, which have a combined total of 1.75 million members, have launched a petition for Visa to "step out from behind" the International Olympic Committee and voice their support for the LGBT community and condemn Russia’s "homosexual propaganda" law, according to a statement released on Thursday.
In the statement, the groups mentioned comments made by an official from General Electric, who told BuzzFeed that the company expects the IOC "to uphold human rights in every aspect of the Games." The statement says the groups hopes Visa has the same sentiments.
Last week, Visa gave a statement to BuzzFeed, saying, "As an Olympic TOP Partner, we believe in the spirit of the Games and its unique ability to unite the world in a way that is positive and inspirational. We are engaged with the IOC on this important topic and support its recent statement that sport is a human right and the Games should be open to all, spectators, officials, media, and athletes, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation."
Visa officials declined to discuss more on the issue.
Members of Courage Campaign and Democracy for America pointed out the credit card company’s past support for the LGBT community, including offering the Rainbow Platinum Plus Card, which funds grants for LGBT communities around the world.
"This is an opportunity for Visa to prove that they are a real ally of the LGBT community, not a fair-weather friend merely willing to pay lip service to LGBT rights when it aids the bottom line," said Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America. "As a major sponsor of the Olympics, until it vocally rejects the rulings, Visa’s silence can and should be seen as approval of the International Olympic Committee’s feckless support of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws."