California Senators Press for Major Boycott Due to Russia's Draconian Anti-Gay Law | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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California Senators Press for Major Boycott Due to Russia's Draconian Anti-Gay Law

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Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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Perhaps more hard-core than a boycott of Russian vodka, three California state senators today will urge the state's two largest pension systems via a resolution to halt any future investments in Russia.

State senators Mark Leno, Darrell Steinberg, and Ricardo Lara are pushing the resolution due to the fact that Russian leaders recently passed a shocking anti-gay law that bans public displays of, or support for, homosexuality and gay rights.

The resolution, which is sponsored by the gay rights group Equality California, also makes demands of the U.S. federal government and NBC, which plans to broadcast the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The state senators call on CALPERS, the public employees' retirement system, and CALSTRS, the public educators' pension plan, to not "invest future resources" in Russia.

According to an Equality California press release, the gay rights group and state senators also want "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."

For the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, there were 18 openly gay athletes and coaches as well as hundreds, if not thousands, of gay fans in attendance. Such a presence will undoubtedly show up in Sochi.

Additionally, the resolution demands that NBC Universal should "discuss the negative impact of these laws on-air during its broadcast of the games, and calls upon [President Barack Obama], Congress, and the Department of State to increase efforts to encourage the decriminalization of homosexuality in countries around the world."

"California does not tolerate discrimination and we certainly shouldn't invest in it!" says John O'Connor, Equality California's Executive Director, in a statement.

State Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco says, "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."

He adds, "Californians cannot silently sit back and tacitly condone these practices by continuing to invest in and support Russian enterprises."

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says, "It's imperative that we stand strong with our LGBT brothers and sisters by clearly condemning these homophobic laws and policies."

He adds, "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."

If passed, the resolution does not force CALPERS and CALSTRS to stop investing in Russia, but applies political pressure on them to do so, especially with powerful Steinberg backing it.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Patrick Range McDonald on Twitter at @PRMcDonald.

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