The antigay National Organization for Marriage is taking its call for a Starbucks boycott beyond U.S. borders, targeting several countries that criminalize homosexuality.
“Today we go international, expanding DumpStarbucks.com campaigns into Mandarin, Arabic, Turkish, Spanish, and Bahala,” the latter being one of the chief languages of Indonesia, NOM president Brian Brown announced in a news release Tuesday about the campaign, which the organization launched over Starbucks’ support for marriage equality in the company’s home state of Washington. “DumpStarbucks.com online ads will also start running in Egypt, Beijing, Hong Kong, the Yunnan region of China, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.”
According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, some of those countries, such as Egypt, Oman, and the UAE, have laws against gay sex, with prison terms for those convicted. Some activists say the NOM campaign’s expansion will brew more bigotry in nations already unfriendly to LGBT people. It “could foster increased hostilities against people just for the coffee they choose to drink,” noted a blogger at Think Progress, calling the action NOM’s “most detestable yet.”
The language on the campaign’s website certainly conveys hostility to LGBT people, saying, “In many areas of the world where Starbucks does business, the concept of ‘gay marriage’ is unheard of and deeply offensive to cultural, moral and religious values. ... Starbucks has declared a culture war on all people of faith (and millions of others) who believe that the institution of marriage as one man and one woman is worth preserving.”
Yet another statement from NOM co-opts the language of diversity. “If [Starbucks CEO] Howard Schultz and his insular Seattle liberals hear from enough of us, management will move to a more genuinely inclusive attitude toward its customers’ and partners’ diverse views on marriage,” said Jonathan Baker, head of NOM’s Corporate Fairness Project, in Tuesday’s press release.
In any case, the Dump Starbucks campaign has drawn far fewer supporters than a rival, pro-LGBT movement. About 25,000 people have signed on to the boycott, while last week SumOfUs.org, Washington United for Marriage, and MoveOn.org delivered a giant thank-you card and petitions bearing 640,000 signatures to Starbucks’ Seattle headquarters in appreciation of the company’s endorsement of LGBT equality.