As a bill that would institute the death penalty for homosexuality races through the Ugandan Parliament, 100,000 consumers joined corporate watchdog SumofUs.org to demand one of the country’s largest beverage companies, Pepsi, publicly oppose the bill.
Petitioners are demanding that Pepsi’s Africa division release a statement opposing the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill and that their Uganda Director communicate that message directly to Ugandan Members of Parliament.
“With tens of thousands of lives on the line, Pepsi’s silence is deafening,” said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive Director of SumofUs.org. “We urge Pepsi to immediately and publicly denounce a bill that would punish or kill people based on their sexual preference.”
Despite rumors that the death penalty was removed from the bill, the latest version released to the public includes the death penalty clause. The bill’s author, David Bahati, has said publicly that he believes every single gay person in Uganda should be killed.
In addition to the horrific use of the death penalty, the legislation creates massive incentives for a person to claim to be a “victim of homosexuality” in order to avoid prosecution if caught engaging in the overly broad definition of homosexual activity. Included in that definition is holding hands or accidentally bumping into someone of the same gender.
“Pepsi is now silent on one of the most horrific pieces of legislation ever considered, and it won’t speak out against the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill unless we make it. This is an opportunity for Pepsi to stand up against homophobia and for human dignity on the right side of history,” concluded Stinebrickner-Kauffman.
This isn’t the first time Pepsi has had the chance to distance itself from homophobia in the wake of consumer concern. After Pepsi was caught sponsoring a concert in Kampala by Beenie Man, an artist who became wealthy spouting homophobic lyrics, Pepsi was forced to back away from its sponsorship of the concert.