lifestyle

Coca-Cola criticised for banning the word ‘lesbian’ on customisable Pride bottles


The tool now appears to have been updated, with ‘lesbian’ permitted for use. (Picture: Coca-Cola/Metro.co.uk)

Drinks giant Coca-Cola has been accused of ‘rainbow-washing’ after cutomers discovered certain words – including ‘lesbian’ – were not allowed on personalised glass bottles.

The online customisation 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’s a lot more offensive ones that went through fine. Real 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 up issues.

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’.

When Metro.co.uk tested out the tool on the US website, the word ‘lesbian’ now appears to be permitted for use on the customisable bottles.

‘We’re continuously refining and improving our Share A Coke personalisation tool to ensure it is used only for its intended purpose – for Coca-Cola fans to celebrate with one another and make connections,’ the company said in a statement to Metro.co.uk.

‘We add terms and phrases if we feel they are consistent with that intent.’

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Get in touch: metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.


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