Drinks giant Coca-Cola has been accused of ‘rainbow-washing’ after customers
discovered certain words – including ‘lesbian’ – were not allowed on personalized glass
The online customization tool lets people create distinctive bottles with their own
bespoke labels, including an option with the Pride flag.
But the word ‘lesbian’ was banned, and when customers tried to type it in they were met
with an automated message.
‘Oops! Looks like the name you requested is not an approved one,’ it read. ‘Names may
not be approved if they’re potentially offensive to other people, trademarked, or celebrity
names. We’ve worked hard to get this list right, but sometimes we mess up.’
Alongside ‘lesbian’, other words were banned from the tool as well, including ‘jihadists,’
‘Nazis,’ ‘QAnon’ and ‘Trump won’.
The words ‘gay’, ‘transgender’, and ‘bisexual’ are all allowed on the US website.
Trans twitter comic Arthur Webber spoke out against the block of the word: ‘Coca-Cola
allowing you to put every anti-trans slur on their rainbow bottles but banning you from
writing “lesbian” is peak corporate pride tbh,’ he said.
‘Wait why are we banned from putting lesbian? that’s not even a slur,’ asked one woman
in the comments.
Other users pointed out the issue that the word ‘Palestine’ was blocked, but the word
‘Isreal’ was not.
‘I kept going for a few minutes, and there are a lot more offensive ones that went through
fine. Really glad they covered their bases with Palestine and common Muslim names tho
[sic],’ wrote one commenter who posted screenshots of approved phrases including
‘slavery’ and ‘forced penetration’.
As the company states in the automated message, the system is fallible, and ‘sometimes
we mess up.’ As a result, the words and phrases that are banned change as customers flag
Previously, ‘Blue Lives Matter was permitted, while ‘Black Lives Matter was not, but
both terms have now been banned.
Anti-trans slurs are no longer allowed, nor is ‘White Pride’.