Dec 8, 2009

Pepsi Tighten Control Over Event Sponsorship

PepsiCo, which came under fire over the past 24 hours for having their brand associated with a concert by an dancehall artist Beenie Man in Uganda, has issued a statement condemning the use of homophobic lyrics, and pledging that the company will maintain tighter control over events sponsorship.

The issue surrounded a concert in Uganda where Beenie Man performed his song Mi Nah Wallah, with a line that calls for LGBT people to have their throats slit. Beenie Man has drawn considerable ire from human rights activists for years for singing songs that call for LGBT people to be executed, and for lesbians to be hung with rope.

The concert in Uganda comes at a particularly political and dangerous time for many LGBT people in the country. Uganda is currently debating a bill in parliament, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would institute the death penalty for many members of Uganda's LGBT population, and throw many others in jail with lengthy prison terms. Moreover, the bill would criminally prosecute straight allies of LGBT people, or anyone who speaks favorably of LGBT rights.

Pepsi, which received more than 400 emails from members asking them to issue a statement on this concert, denounced the lyrics of Beenie Man, and said that the company would not tolerate this kind of violent homophobia.

Dave DeCecco of PepsiCo's Media Bureau following news that the company had sponsored the concert by the singer in Uganda release the following statemet:

"Regarding Beenie Man's performance in Uganda, we just wanted you to know that we are appalled by his lyrics and find them repugnant. We are not associated with him in any way. Our bottling partner in Uganda was not aware of his views and never would have sponsored the concert with this knowledge. Moving forward, we will work closely with our bottling partners to be more vigilant about the events associated with our brands."

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Defamation (GLAAD) also spoke with Pepsi about this concert, and urged mainstream media and big-time corporations to pay attention to what's happening in Uganda right now.

"GLAAD urges mainstream media to shine a light on the horrific anti-gay legislation that is currently pending in Uganda and expose the potentially lethal injustices that gay and lesbian Ugandans could face simply by being who they are," the organization wrote.



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