California Leno Resolution Condemning Russian Anti-Gay Laws Clears Committee

The Noise we are making is working – Keep up the advocacy and activism as SR 18 Urges CalPERS and CalSTRS to End Future Investments in Russia and | Asks International Events, Including the Miss Universe Pageant, to Relocate

 By Melanie Nathan, August 26, 2013.

Photo061287SACRAMENTO – A resolution introduced by Senator Mark Leno that urges CalPERS and CalSTRS not to invest future resources from their pension plans in Russia passed the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee today with a 4-1 bipartisan vote.

Senate Resolution 18 was introduced in response to Russia’s new laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. In addition to asking the state’s two largest pension funds to stop making direct future investments in Russia, SR 18 calls on the International Olympic Committee to withdraw its position that expressing support for LGBT people and their rights is a violation of its rules and 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. SR 18 also urges other organizations holding large internationally televised events in Russia, including the Miss Universe Organization and its owner Donald Trump, to move their events to countries without such virulently anti-gay laws.

“Russia’s new anti-gay laws are designed to promote the ongoing persecution of LGBT people in that country, and they are an unconscionable affront to LGBT people around the globe,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “As the host of international events, including the Winter Olympics and the Miss Universe Pageant, it is unacceptable that Russia promote discrimination against people based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity. California joins the worldwide outrage against these new laws and is in a unique position as one of the largest economies to make a strong statement that we will not tolerate nor invest in blatant violations of human rights.”

On June 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law that threatens to arrest, detain and imprison individuals or groups that publicly support LGBT equality. Punishable offenses could include public acknowledgment of one’s sexual orientation, displays of affection between same-sex partners, statements in support of LGBT rights and the use of symbols such as rainbows that are connected to the LGBT community. Russia also recently enacted a law that prohibits same-sex couples from adopting children. The new laws come at a time when hate crimes and public persecution of LGBT people in Russia are on the rise.

The resolution is co-authored by 16 Senators and co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“CalPERS and CalSTRS represent thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and by taking action, California can show Russia that we will not sit back and tolerate discriminatory anti-LGBT laws. California has a say in where it invests and our values of nondiscrimination demand that we divest Russia,” said John O’Connor, Equality California’s Executive Director.

“What is happening is Russia is horrifying and contrary to the most basic principles of human rights and decency,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell. “We all must do everything we can to urge the Russian government to repeal these despicable laws. We are grateful for this resolution and the attention it gives to the sorry state of rights and freedom in Russia.”

SR 18 will be heard next on the Senate floor.


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