Equality California
California Senate Urges State’s Two Largest Pensions to Avoid Russian Investments Over Anti-Gay Law

September 11, 2013

CONTACT: Jesse Melgar, Equality California
PHONE: 323.848.9801 ext. 207 EMAIL: jesse@eqca.org

California Senate Urges State’s Two Largest Pensions to Avoid Russian Investments Over Anti-Gay Law

(Sacramento) Yesterday, the California Senate passed Senate Resolution 18, authored by Sen. Mark Leno, urging CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest funds from their pension plans in Russia, following Russia's adoption of “propaganda” laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The resolution passed by a bipartisan vote of 29-1.

"California stands with our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters in Russia, and by urging the state’s two largest pension plans to divest, we are taking bold action against draconian anti-LGBT laws," said John O'Connor, EQCA executive director. "Senate Resolution 18 shows the world that California does not tolerate discrimination and we certainly shouldn’t invest in it. We thank Sen. Mark Leno and all bill coauthors for standing up in support of this resolution.”

“I am pleased that my colleagues in the Senate today took a stand against the persecution of LGBT people in Russia,” said Sen. Leno. “Recent news reports confirm that violence against LGBT people has increased since these new anti-gay laws took effect, reinforcing our belief that the host country of the Winter Olympics aims to promote continued discrimination against its citizens and international visitors based solely on sexual orientation and gender identity. We must not tolerate, nor invest in, such blatant violations of human rights.”

The resolution was sponsored by EQCA, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and co-authored by 16 senators. “What is happening in 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.”

In addition to asking the state’s two largest pension funds to stop making direct future investments in Russia, the resolution 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 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. 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.

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