Equality California
Following Anti-LGBT Crackdown, Equality California Sponsors Resolution Urging CalPERS and CalSTRS Against Making Future Investments in Russia
August 9, 2013

CONTACT: Jesse Melgar
PHONE: 323.848.9801 EMAIL: jesse@eqca.org

Following Anti-LGBT Crackdown, Equality California Sponsors Resolution Urging CalPERS and CalSTRS Against Making Future Investments in Russia

(Sacramento) Equality California today announced that it will sponsor a Senate Resolution set to be introduced Monday by Senator Mark Leno, joined by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Senator Ricardo Lara, urging CalPERS and CalSTRS not to invest future resources from their pension plans in Russia.

“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 making a bold gesture against hateful policies and a firm stance in defense of equality. Our investments should align with our values, and never reward discrimination 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.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

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

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 90 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org