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California public pension funds to be told to disinvest in Russia

California public pension funds to be told to disinvest in Russia

Public employee pension funds in California are a step closer to disinvesting in Russia over its ban on so-called gay propaganda after a resolution passed a state senate committee in a bipartisan vote.

Democratic and Republican senators voted 4 to 1 in support of SR 18 which calls on the CalPERs and CalSTRS pension funds to no longer invest in Russia while it continues to suppress LGBT people’s rights to express themselves and for the Miss Universe Pageant to be relocated to another country.

The resolution was authored by openly gay California state Senator Mark Leno and also calls on the International Olympic Committee to seek assurances that spectators and athletes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will not be targeted by Russian authorities for expressing support for LGBT people and their rights.

The resolution also calls on NBC, the official US partner of the Sochi Games to highlight the plight of LGBT people during the Olympics and urges the US Government to encourage the decriminalization of homosexuality all over the world.

‘Russia’s new anti-gay laws are designed to promote the ongoing persecution of LGBT people in that country, and they are an unconscionable affront to LGBT people around the globe,’ Leno told Calitics.

‘As the host of international events, including the Winter Olympics and the Miss Universe Pageant, it is unacceptable that Russia promote discrimination against people based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity. California joins the worldwide outrage against these new laws and is in a unique position as one of the largest economies to make a strong statement that we will not tolerate nor invest in blatant violations of human rights.’

CalPERS, the largest employee pension system in the US, has $266 billion invested globally, of which $1.4 billion is currently invested in Russia.

Earlier this month in response to Leno moving his resolution CalPERS said it would factor in human rights issues in how it invested.

‘CalPERS is a strong defender of human and civil rights across the globe,’ the fund said in statement.

‘CalPERS will continue its prudent review of all investments and will consider current developments as it abides by all applicable laws.’

SC 18 will now go to the Senate floor for a full vote by senators.

Leno’s district includes the city of Los Angeles which is considering ending its sister city relationship with St Petersburg over Russia’s gay propaganda ban.