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Coca-Cola defends LGBT-tolerant poster campaign

Coca-Cola Hungary has released a statement defending its current advertising campaign featuring same-sex couples on posters in Budapest metro stations. The posters have already triggered an online protest petition and a call for their removal from Fidesz MP István Boldog.

Photo: Coca-Cola Hungary/ Noguchi Porter Novelli

Already well known for his stridently homophobic views, having called in Parliament for the Budapest Pride parade to be banned earlier this year, Boldog declared on his Facebook page that he would not drink Coca-Cola products until the ads are removed, and urged others to follow his boycott.

The separate online petition, besides inviting signatories to protest to Budapest public transport authorities and the cityʼs mayor, also called for help in removing the posters from public places.

The posters in Coca-Colaʼs latest campaign feature gay and lesbian couples sharing the soft drink. In a press release received by the Budapest Business Journal, the company explains that the new campaign is linked to the “Love Revolution” initiative of the Sziget Festival, “with which Coca-Cola is delighted to associate, since equality and diversity is our fundamental shared value.”

The press release notes that limited-edition 0.5 liter bottles of Coca-Cola Zero furnished with rainbow labels have been put on sale in a number of countries and will also be available for purchase at the Sziget Festival.

“We are accompanying this campaign with posters placed across the city,” the press release continues. “The three different posters feature both hetero- and homosexual couples drinking Coca-Cola. With this we really want to convey a message: our belief that everyone has the right to affection and love; that the feeling of love is the same (#loveislove).”

“Many advertisements - not just Coca-Colaʼs - divide peopleʼs opinions: some like them, some do not. Of course we respect the opinions of others that differ from our own,” stresses the company. “We believe that we are all equal, irrespective of our nationality, religion, gender, age, ethnic background, spoken language, hobbies and opinions. We believe both hetero- and homosexuals have the right to love the person they want, the way they want.”

At the request of current affairs news website hvg.hu, the governing Fidesz released a brief response to Boldogʼs remarks, stopping short of addressing the issue of homophobia, and saying only that “Hungary is a free country, and so everyone can freely decide whether to drink Coca-Cola.”