Coca-Cola Ads Depicting Same-Sex Couples Spark Boycott Call in Hungary

by Sam Cronin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday August 6, 2019

Coca-Cola has sparked furor from Hungarian lawmakers in the ruling right-wing Fidesz party for an ad campaign, #Loveislove, featuring pictures of homosexual and heterosexual couples on posters around the country. The company has stepped up to defend its campaign, releasing a statement reading in part:

"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-Cola's - divide people's opinions: some like them, some do not.

The release goes on to stress tolerance: "Of course we respect the opinions of others that differ from our own. We believe that we are all equal, irrespective of our nationality, religion, gender, age, ethnic background, spoken language, hobbies and opinions."

The ads were placed near the Sziget music festival, which is celebrating the theme of "Love Revolution" this week. The ads are accompanied by a special edition rainbow flag styled half-liter Coke bottle, on sale at the festival.

In response, Fidesz party deputy speaker Istvan Boldog called for a Coca-Cola boycott during its "provocative" campaign. An anti-abortion group, CitizenGo has also started an online petition to remove "homosexual advertisements in Budapest." The petition has over 27,000 signatures as of this post.

According to Reuters, "[Prime Minister Viktor] Orban has rarely addressed the issue head-on, though in a 2016 interview he said gay people 'can do what they want but cannot get their marriages recognized by the state... An apple cannot ask to be called a pear.'"

According to the Budapest Business Journal, "the governing Fidesz [party] released a brief response to Boldog's 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."

Bloomberg also reports that several news sites in Hungary close to the Fidesz party have "attacked the Coca-Cola campaign, saying it promotes same-sex love over heterosexuality."

Coca-Cola's press release addresses the controversy simply, saying: "We believe both hetero- and homosexuals have the right to love the person they want the way they want."

The week-long Sziget Festival will run from August 7 to 13 in Hungary, celebrating the "Love Revolution." Click here for more information.

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