(CNSNews.com) – Although many large businesses, including PayPal, Apple, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola, have criticized North Carolina’s new locker room and bathroom law as “discriminatory” to LGBT people, those same four corporations do business in Middle Eastern countries where homosexual conduct and cross-dressing are illegal.
In Saudi Arabia, for instance, homosexual conduct is “punishable by death or flogging,” according to the U.S. State Department. In Kuwait, practicing homosexuals can face prison terms up to 10 years; cross-dressers can go to prison for up to three years.
PayPal, Apple, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola do business in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Despite the anti-gay laws in those two countries, neither PayPal, Apple, Microsoft, nor Coca-Cola would tell CNSNews.com if they opposed those laws; whether they would publicly ask that those laws be repealed; whether it is hypocritical for them to oppose the North Carolina law while doing business in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; and why, since they are committed to LGBT rights, they conduct business in countries where homosexual acts and cross-dressing are illegal.
On March 23, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law HB2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, popularly known as the bathroom bill. The law basically says that all public bathrooms and locker rooms are single-sex facilities; men must use men’s rooms and women must use women’s rooms; sexual identity is based on biology, what is stated on one’s birth certificate.
Private businesses and establishments can set their own bathroom and locker room rules. And if a transgender male or female has surgery to change their sexual anatomy and this is changed on their birth certificate, then they can use the bathroom that matches their “new” sex.
The law also states that public facilities may designate single-occupancy bathrooms as single sex or uni-sex.
That law is opposed by homosexual activist groups, such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality North Carolina (ENC), and their allies.
A letter from the HRC and ENC was sent to Gov. McCrory explaining why HB2 apparently is discriminatory against LGBT people. Representatives of more than 140 companies signed onto the letter. These included PayPal, Apple, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola, as well as Google, Levi-Strauss & Co., Barnes and Noble, Kellogg Company, Twitter, GE, YouTube, LinkedIn, Reddit, Uber, Whole Foods, Marriott, Starbucks and Facebook.
The letter states that HB2 “overturned protections for LGBT people and sanctioned discrimination across North Carolina,” and does not reflect “the values of our companies ….”
It further states, “The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business…. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law in the upcoming legislative session.”
PayPal CEO Dan Schulman also said in a separate statement that because of HB2, PayPal would not build a new operations center in Charlotte, which would have employed 400 people. “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” said Schulman.
“PayPal is known to be a supporter of LGBT rights,” he said. “The company earned a 100% ranking on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2016 Corporate Equality Index, a national report on corporate policies related to LGBT workplace equality.”
Despite their opposition to North Carolina’s bathroom bill and their apparently strong support for LGBT rights, PayPal, Apple, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola do extensive business in the anti-gay countries of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
The U.S. State Department’s 2015 Human Rights Report on Saudi Arabia says, “Under sharia as interpreted in the country, consensual same-sex sexual conduct is punishable by death or flogging, depending on the perceived seriousness of the case. It is illegal for men ‘to behave like women’ or to wear women’s clothes, and vice versa. Due to social conventions and potential persecution, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations did not operate openly, nor were there gay rights advocacy events of any kind.”
In addition, the report states, “In June authorities arrested several persons in Jeddah following raids on two parties involving LGBTI individuals. In July a Twitter account associated with the CPVPV announced a $25,000 fine for an international school that had painted rainbows on its building, calling them ‘emblems of homosexuality.’”
Apple CEO Tim Cook. (AP)
In 2014, the “Medina Criminal Court sentenced a 24-year old man to three years in prison and 450 lashes for soliciting sex with other men using Twitter.”
In the 2015 report for Kuwait it says, “Consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men and cross-dressing are illegal. The law punishes consensual same-sex sexual activity between men older than 21 with imprisonment of up of to seven years; those engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activity with men younger than 21 may be imprisoned for as long as 10 years. No laws criminalize sexual behavior between women.
“The law imposes a fine of 1,059 dinars ($3,530) and imprisonment for one to three years for persons imitating the appearance of the opposite sex in public. Transgender persons reported harassment, detainment, and abuse by security forces. A human rights organization reported that authorities incarcerated two transgender persons due to their transgender identity.”
“Police arrested seven cross-dressers and gay men in September after allegedly breaking up a party at a private residence,” states the report. “Police reportedly obtained a warrant, raided the residence, and charged those arrested with engaging in immoral activities…. LGBTI organizations neither operated openly nor held gay pride marches or gay rights advocacy events.”
On its PayPal Global webpage, the company lists the many countries where its services are available, in Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe. The top of the page says, “We get where you’re coming from. We are available in 203 markets and 26 currencies. Spend and receive safely over borders and language barriers. We’re here for you, wherever you are.”
Among the many countries listed in the Asia Pacific region for PayPal are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Click on the Kuwait link, and it takes you to a page that says (in English, French, or Arabic), “We’ve got you covered. … Shop with peace of mind, we protect your eligible purchases. If your order doesn’t arrive or isn’t as the seller described, we can help you get your money back.”
The page also provides a link to “open a business account.”
The link and page for PayPal Saudi Arabia is essentially identical to the one for PayPal Kuwait. Further searching on the PayPal website shows that the company also provides its “commercial payment fees for Saudi Arabia,” the amount that businesses have to pay to use PayPal’s services.
Coca-Cola is a major business in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia in particular, in addition to sales, the company operates a bottling company in Riyadh. It is a joint venture with the Olayan Group and is called the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Saudi Arabia.
The bottling firm employs 1,400 people, maintains 30 sales depots, and delivers its products to almost 50,000 customers.
According to Olayan, “Coca-Cola products now represent 40% of all carbonated soft drink sales in the region.” Coca-Cola products are advertised, distributed, and sold in Kuwait.
In Kuwait, the Microsoft offices are at the Al Sahab Tower in Kuwait City.
CNSNews.com contacted the press offices of PayPal, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Apple by e-mail and telephone asking them to explain their opposition to North Carolina’s bathroom bill while simultaneously conducting business with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where homosexual behavior is illegal, and where gays and transger people are imprisoned.
None of the companies answered CNSNews.com’s questions. A PR person at Microsoft, however, did respond by e-mail, saying she had “reached out to my colleagues and will follow up with you as soon as I have more information.”
Muslim men praying. (AP)