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Senators will urge pension funds to shun Russia

By Josh Richman
Friday, August 9th, 2013 at 10:09 am in California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Mark Leno.

In a move that could have a lot more impact than a vodka boycott, state Senate Democrats intend to introduce a resolution urging California’s massive public pension funds not to invest future resources in Russia.

Mark Leno“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,” state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said in a news release. “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.”

Leno – joined by sate Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento; Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach; and bill sponsor Equality California – will offer a resolution – urging the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System 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 will call 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 State Department to increase efforts to encourage the decriminalization of homosexuality in countries around the world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin enacted a new law June 30 that 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.

“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,” Steinberg said in the news release. “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.

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  • RR senile columnist

    Russkies back Assad, maybe Iran, shelter Snowden. But when they go after transsexuals, that’s beyond the limits of decency! Have you no shame, Mr Putin!

  • GV Haste

    More brainy ideas from Leno.

    OK, Russian first on the list to be avoided.

    How about all the oil companies that do business with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain, etc.
    Where one doesn’t even dare to be gay, let alone talk about it in public.

    To single out Russia starts one down a dangerous path to not doing business with half the world.

    More PC grandstanding from Leno

    First I want Leno to create a list of all the nations in the world who have “acceptable” policies on LGBT issues and those who do not.
    No doubt, the USA would have been on the bad list only a few years ago.
    Yet Leno would insist that the entire globe now change overnight because the USA has suddenly done so.

    Narrow minded, non-worldly, insular thinking. Typical stuff floating around the SF Board of Supervisors chambers.
    Now in the capital.