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More Olympic-linked furor over Russia anti-gay law

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A gay rights activist holds a banner in front of a large clock showing the number of days left until the start of the Olympic games as a police officer approaches, left, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Russian gay rights activists protested the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi. Two activists unfurled banners reading “Berlin 1936 = Sochi 2014,†referring to the Olympic Games that were held in the capital of Nazi Germany. One-man pickets are legal in Russia and the two activists holding signs were spaced far enough apart that neither was arrested. (AP Photo/Elena Ignatyeva)

A gay rights activist holds a banner in front of a large clock showing the number of days left until the start of the Olympic games as a police officer approaches, left, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Russian gay rights activists protested the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi. Two activists unfurled banners reading “Berlin 1936 = Sochi 2014,†referring to the Olympic Games that were held in the capital of Nazi Germany. One-man pickets are legal in Russia and the two activists holding signs were spaced far enough apart that neither was arrested. (AP Photo/Elena Ignatyeva)

A gay rights activist holds a banner in front of a large clock showing the number of days left until the start of the Olympic games as police officers approach, left, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Russian gay rights activists protested the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi. Two activists unfurled banners reading “Berlin 1936 = Sochi 2014,†referring to the Olympic Games that were held in the capital of Nazi Germany. One-man pickets are legal in Russia and the two activists holding signs were spaced far enough apart that neither was arrested. (AP Photo/Elena Ignatyeva)

Lesbian and Gay Rights activists take part in a demonstration aimed to coincide with the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, against laws aimed at stifling Gay Rights in Russia, opposite Downing Street in London, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. In London, about 150 people rallying outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s office in London urged McDonald’s and the IOC’s other sponsors to speak out. The activists there said they plan to deliver a petition signed by more than 100,000 people to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Israeli activists hold signs as they protest against Russia’s human rights record and anti-gay law in front of Israel’s President Shimon Peres’ residence during the visit of Dmitry Kiselyov, head of Russia Today, Â Russia’s largest news agency, in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. The law bans pro-gay “propaganda” that could be accessible to minors. Activists view the law as forbidding almost any public expression of gay-rights sentiment. Hebrew sign, center, reads, “homophobe and racist not in the presidents’ residence,” referring to the visitor. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

A group of gay rights activists demonstrate in front of a restaurant in Paris, Wednesday Feb. 5, 2014, to protest against Russian policy over gay rights. Gay rights activists across the world are holding a day of protests against the Russian government, just two days before the Winter Olympics begin in the southern resort of Sochi. Signs read: Sport Does Not Discriminate. Sponsors, It’s Time to Say No. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Protesters in cities around the world targeted major Olympic sponsors Wednesday, just ahead of the Winter Games in Sochi, urging them to speak out against Russia’s law restricting gay-rights activities. Two more sponsors of the U.S. Olympic team condemned the law, but leading global sponsors did not join them.

“”No, no to Russia’s anti-gay law,” chanted several dozen protesters in Paris who gathered in front of a McDonald’s restaurant at the Place de la Republique. The fast-food chain is one of the International Olympic Committee’s 10 top sponsors for the Sochi Games, which open Friday.

Protests also took place in London, Jerusalem, St. Petersburg, Russia, and elsewhere. In all, 20 demonstrations were planned by the advocacy group All Out and its allies.

McDonald’s, like other top IOC sponsors, reiterated that it supports human rights and opposes discrimination, but its statement did not mention the Russian law.

Coca-Cola, another prime target of protests, also didn’t mention the law in its latest statement, though it described itself as a strong supporter of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“We do not condone intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world,” Coca-Cola said.

Visa, another IOC top sponsor, issued a similar statement. General Electric, an IOC sponsor since 2005, declined comment.

In contrast to the cautious approach of IOC sponsors, three sponsors of the U.S. Olympic Committee have decided to speak out explicitly against the Russian law.

The first, on Tuesday, was AT&T.

“Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society,” it said.

Following suit on Wednesday were DeVry University, a for-profit education enterprise, and yogurt-maker Chobani.

“We are against Russia’s anti-LGBT law and support efforts to improve LGBT equality,” said Ernie Gibble, a DeVry spokesman.

“It’s disappointing that in 2014 this is still an issue,” said Chobani’s CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya. “We are against all laws and practices that discriminate in any way, whether it be where you come from or who you love — for that reason, we oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT law.”

AT&T’s move was praised by leading groups in the coalition that has been working for months to pressure sponsors into speaking out.

“AT&T has broken the ice,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives for Human Rights Watch. “Top sponsors of the Olympics like Coke, GE, McDonald’s and Visa are going to have to follow suit — they are very much on the wrong side of history in refusing to use their leverage with the International Olympic Committee to ask for reform and to defend LGBT Russians.”

The Russian law, signed in July by President Vladimir Putin, outlaws pro-gay “propaganda” that

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