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State pushes Sochi Games advertisers on gay rights

ALBANY — New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and New York City Comptroller John Liu are pressuring Olympic advertisers to speak out against Russia’s restrictions on gay and transgender rights before the Sochi Winter Games begin in February.

The officials on Thursday are leveraging $327 billion in assets in New York public pensions that are invested in many of the Winter Olympic advertisers.

DiNapoli says the companies and all publicly traded companies have an obligation to support responsible social policies and protect shareholders’ investment against associations with companies that don’t support human rights. The New Yorkers also cite the Olympic Charter, which prohibits discrimination.

Advocates have protested Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda.” The Worldwide Olympic Partners — among them Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa — have sidestepped requests to condemn the law.