Senator Mark Leno takes a stand against Russian Anti-gay laws with California investment resolution

Following Anti-Gay Crackdown, Leno to Introduce Resolution Urging CalPERS and CalSTRS Not to Make Future Investments in Russia

By Melanie Nathan, August 09, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 9.14.46 AMSAN FRANCISCO – Senator Mark Leno, joined by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Senator Ricardo Lara and bill sponsor Equality California, will introduce a Senate Resolution on Monday urging CalPERS and CalSTRS not to invest future resources from their pension plans in Russia.

“The anti-gay laws recently passed in Russia are an unconscionable affront to LGBT people across the world, not just those who live in that country,” said Senator Leno (D-San Francisco). “Californians cannot silently sit back and tacitly condone these practices by continuing to invest in and support Russian enterprises. CalPERS and CalSTRS are well placed to use their economic clout to make a strong statement that it’s unacceptable to persecute and discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The resolution urges California’s two largest pension plans, CalPERS and CalSTRS, to cease making direct future investments in Russia, and to encourage companies in which employee retirement funds are invested and that are doing business in Russia not to enable human rights violations. It also calls on the International Olympic Committee to seek a written guarantee from the Russian government that athletes and other visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will not be prosecuted under the anti-gay laws, urges NBC Universal to discuss the negative impact of these laws on-air during its broadcast of the games, and calls upon the President, Congress, and the Department of State to increase efforts to encourage the decriminalization of homosexuality in countries around the world.

This comes after the enactment of a new law, signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 30th, which threatens arrest, detainment and imprisonment for up to 15 days for individuals or groups found to be publicly supportive of LGBT equality. Punishable offenses could include public acknowledgment of one’s orientation, displays of affection between same-sex partners, statements in support of LGBT rights, and the use of symbols such as rainbows that are attributed to the LGBT community. Hate crimes and public persecution of gays have increased in the months following the enactment of these extreme measures.

“California does not tolerate discrimination and we certainly shouldn’t invest in it,” said John O’Connor, Equality California’s Executive Director. “By urging the state’s two largest pension plans to cease Russian investments, we are taking a stand for equality. Our investments should align with our values and never reward discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“What’s happening in Russia is an outrageous violation of basic human rights, and history has taught us time and time again what can happen when we remain silent in the face of such persecution,” said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “It’s imperative that we stand strong with our LGBT brothers and sisters by clearly condemning these homophobic laws and policies. Through the world stage of next year’s Winter Olympics and through adherence to socially responsible investment practices, we can help put an end to this aggressive discrimination.”

“In today’s global economy, pension funds can meet their fiduciary responsibilities in a variety of ways, without investing in countries that violate basic human rights,” stated Leno. California is well within its rights to invest its dollars in a way that does not undercut the dignity of all human beings, including LGBT individuals. It is a statement we hope other states and countries will follow so that all LGBT people can be protected across the globe,” he said.

The resolution will be heard in the Senate prior to the conclusion of legislative session in September.

UPDATED 9/10/2013.: Resolution passes the Senate

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6 Comments on “Senator Mark Leno takes a stand against Russian Anti-gay laws with California investment resolution”

  1. paulakey245562841 August 9, 2013 at 12:17 PM #

    Let our opposition voices resound around the world. Thank you to these humanitarians.

  2. Lee Dorsey August 9, 2013 at 3:09 PM #

    Come lets start calling it what it is …. it is SCAPEGOATING so the new Russian Autocracy under Czar Putin won’t get called out for what it is!

  3. Lee Dorsey August 9, 2013 at 3:11 PM #


  4. Lee Dorsey August 9, 2013 at 3:22 PM #

    YES Hit Em in their Pocketbook: You shouls find and post the Recent study said there is  $800 Billion per year controlled by# LGBT in Investments OUTSIDE THE US!


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