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California State Senate Condemns Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

California FlagThe California State Senate has voted 29 to 1 to condemn the homophobia in Russia and call for the state’s pension plan providers, CalPERS and CalSTRS, to no longer invest in Russia. Senate Resolution 18 was authored by Senator Mark Leno.

SR 18 was introduced in response to the recent passage in Russia of a law banning the discussion of LGBT issues with children. The law might ostensibly say that, but it has been used oppress anyone who speaks out against the Putin Regime.

SR 18 also “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

Art protesting the Sochi Olympics

Art protesting the Sochi Olympics

2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will not be prosecuted under the anti-gay laws.”

The resolution also asks other large, internationally televised events being broadcast from Russia such as the Miss Universe Organization to move their events to other countries.

Leno stated that “I am pleased that my colleagues in the Senate today took a stand against the persecution of LGBT people in Russia. 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 cosponsered by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. EQCA executive Director John O’Connor stated that “Today’s vote sends a powerful message that California doesn’t support discrimination against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and Vladimir Putintransgender brothers and sisters in Russia. By urging the state’s two largest pensions to divest from Russia we are taking bold action to stop dangerous anti-LGBT policies that are inconsistent with California values. We have a say in where we invest our dollars and we certainly shouldn’t invest in places that oppose equality. We thank Senator Leno and the coauthors for their leadership in passing this resolution.”

NCLR executive director Kate Kendell added that “What is happening is Russia is horrifying and contrary to the most basic principles of human rights and decency. 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 is a statement of position by the Senate, and does not influence the California House, nor Governor Jerry Brown’s office. It is non-binding overall.

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