budweiser world cup
budweiser world cup

#PrideOverGenocide: Activists Call Out Budweiser for Supporting the World Cup in Russia

A group of queer activists are calling out Budweiser for supporting the World Cup in anti-LGBTQ Russia while simultaneously supporting Pride in New York City. The Budweiser World Cup sponsorship is especially under scrutiny after various attacks on the LGBTQ community occurred in Russia this past week after international the soccer tournament began.

Using the hashtag #PrideOverGenocide, activist group Voices4 garnered over 2,500 comments on Budweiser’s most recent Instagram post. The group is taking responsibility for Budweiser halting their promotion of their support of the World Cup. Within 36 hours of the launch of the digital protest, Budweiser’s Instagram went silent. They had previously published a post every day since the soccer championship began.

Notable people who have participated in the digital protest include Tom Daley, Milk, Hey Rooney, Harper Watters, Chellaman, Dustin Lance Black, Detox Icunt, Andrew Chappelle (from the original cast of Hamilton), Munroe Bergdorf, Kyle Krieger and Levi J. Foster.

Voices4 picked Budweiser because of their longstanding relationship with the LGBTQ community. In addition to New York Pride, Budweiser has sponsored Boston and Los Angeles’ Pride celebrations.

voices4 budweiser world cup
A Voices4 protest in New York City

“Including the LGBTQIA+ community in their advertising does not erase their craven decision to financially support a dangerous, homophobic regime,” says queer journalist Elly Brinkley. “The Budweiser brand can’t have it both ways: sponsoring our pride here in the United States and bolstering the economy of a country that openly persecutes us. It’s up to Bud to choose pride over genocide.”

“Did Budweiser really think they could sponsor an event where we are beaten in the streets in Russia and march in the streets with us in Pride in New York on the same day?” Voices4 founder Adam Eli adds. “Did they think we wouldn’t notice? Did they think we do not care about our queer siblings abroad? At Voices4, we believe that queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere. Budweiser needs to clearly speak out against Russia’s anti LGBTQ laws and culture and ensure queer people and their safety is a priority for FIFA moving forward.”

Since the World Cup began a week ago, there already have been some incidents. One activist has been arrested and three gay soccer fans have been savagely attacked so far. Famous British LGBTQ rights activist Peter Tatchell was arrested after his one-person protest against the year-and-a-half-long campaign of kidnapping, torturing and murdering LGBTQ citizens in Chechnya. The gay bashing of two French LGBTQ soccer fans resulted in head injuries and a fractured jaw. 

“Little action has been taken by the Russian government and police to crack down on far-right extremists who target LGBT+ people for violent and humiliating assaults,” wrote Tatchell, “including the instigators of the current threats to bash and stab LGBT+ football fans at the World Cup.”

As part of their protest on the Budweiser World Cup partnership, Voices4 is demanding that Budweiser condemn the lack of accountability by Russian authorities for ongoing anti-LGBTQ purges in Chechnya and adopt an unequivocal public position in opposition to Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” law, which clearly violates FIFA’s Code of Ethics and Statutes.

Voices4 also demands that Budweiser urge FIFA to ensure that future World Cup host countries comply with their agreement to uphold their Code of Ethics, including principles of non-discrimination and media freedom.

UPDATE; 6/25/18: A spokesperson from Anheuser-Busch reached out to Hornet with a comment on this story. Here’s what they told us:

Our 32-year sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup has never been about endorsing any government or policy, but rather about our dream of bringing people together to celebrate life’s greatest moments. The power of football is one way to unite us, no matter our background or sexual orientation. Similar to the various skillsets on the playing field, we believe the strongest teams are those made up of people with different experiences, perspectives and ideas. Our values guide us and we have a long history of driving purposeful conversations with consumers about respect, diversity and inclusivity through our brands.

We strongly oppose hate crimes and discrimination of any kind and will continue to embrace policies and practices that support the concept of unity and acceptance.

For more info on the Budweiser World Cup digital protest #PrideOverGenocide, head here.