Youth wing of Swiss People’s Party calls for Coca-Cola boycott over homophobia referendum

Youth wing of Swiss People's Party calls for Coca-Cola boycott over homophobia referendum
Image courtesy Coca Cola
On Monday, Coca-Cola indicated its support for an upcoming Swiss referendum criminalising homophobia. As a result, the leaders of the youth branch of the Swiss Peoples Party (SVP) - the largest party in Switzerland - are calling for a boycott.

On February 9th, Switzerland will go to the polls to vote on an initiative which would criminalise homophobia to the same extent as other forms of discrimination based on race and gender. 

Early indications are that the referendum has the majority support of Swiss voters. 

The Coca-Cola Company in Switzerland on Monday publicly indicated its support for the initiative. 

EXPLAINED: The Swiss referendum that could criminalise homophobia 

READ MORE: EU migration to affordable housing: All you need to know about Switzerland's crucial spring referendums

As a result, the President of the youth wing of the Swiss People’s Party (JSVP) Benjamin Fischer, 29, put out a press release on Tuesday telling followers to boycott the world’s best-known soft drink company, calling for them to switch to Pepsi or Vivi Kola instead. 

Alongside the hard-right Federal Democratic Union, the JSVP are one of the highest-profile opponents of the referendum, saying that restrictions on homophobic statements would amount to a curtailing of free speech rights. 

‘For a colourful Switzerland’

Although the American soft drink company has involved itself in political campaigns elsewhere before, such political engagement is rare in Switzerland. 

As reported by Swiss tabloid Blick, this is the first time the company has openly joined a political campaign in the Central European nation. 

Entitled the 'Equality Manifesto', on Monday the company launched a campaign calling for a colourful Switzerland in all four Swiss national languages, as well as in English. 

Coca-Cola Switzerland’s Managing Director announced “it is the diversity in this country that makes Switzerland an unprecedented success story.”

While Coke says they are not telling people how to vote, they said they want to “hitch their colours to a colourful Switzerland.”

The full campaign including five languages. Image courtesy Coca-Cola

‘I don’t like Coca-Cola anymore’

In a media release from Tuesday, Fischer criticised the company’s political statement, saying “I don’t like Coca-Cola anymore”. 

In a tweet which has since been deleted, Fischer said there were other cola alternatives that supporters should switch to. 

The party also called out what it perceives to be the company’s hypocrisy, highlighting that the drink is sold in several countries where homosexual acts are criminalised. 

JSVP Managing Director David Trachsel, 25, told Blick that the company is “showing itself in a light it is not entitled to”. 

“Coca Cola is doing business in countries where homosexuality is still banned or even punished with death.”

Trachsel said he no longer wanted to drink Coca-Cola ever again as a result, or at least for a year. 

The referendum, alongside another vote on affordable housing, will be held on February 9th. 

 

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