Petition condemns P&G sponsorship in Russia

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A petition condemning Russia's anti-gay laws has been delivered to Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble (P&G) and other corporate sponsors of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Petition organizer Julianne Howell of Loveland says she's grateful to P&G for their sponsorship of the Cincinnati Pride Festival, and their support of the gay community in general. However, she says the company's support of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia sends a mixed message.

"It's really not progress if you're helping us with one hand and funding the problem with the other," said Howell.

She delivered nearly 200,000 signatures to P&G headquarters on Wednesday.

Howell explained the petition's message is simple, "We're not just calling on P&G, we're calling on Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Samsung, VISA -- All the major Olympic sponsors to say that they're not going to endorse state sponsored homophobia."

The petition asks these corporations to pull their support from the Olympics, but P&G Communications Manager Mary Ralles says the company will continue its sponsorship.

"We plan to support the moms, the athletes and the families that have worked so hard to get there, and there are many other athletes and organizations that share this sentiment that participation is really important," said Ralles.

She says, however, discrimination is also a company concern.

"We do support the [International Olympic Committee] statement. We strongly support it that the games should be free of discrimination regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation," Ralles told FOX19.

Even though P&G will continue its support of the Olympics, petition organizers say at least the corporate giant is listening to their concerns.

FOX19 reached out to Coca-Cola, Panasonic, Samsung and Visa about the petition, but they have not responded to our request for comment.

Russia's anti-gay laws have already sparked a boycott of Russian vodka in bars in places like West Hollywood, South Florida and Chicago.

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