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14 Aug, 2013 00:25

California senators seek to curtail investment in Russia over anti-gay propaganda law

California senators seek to curtail investment in Russia over anti-gay propaganda law

Three democrats in the California Senate are urging the state not to invest employee pension funds in Russia as a protest against the country’s new law against promoting homosexuality to minors.

The non-binding resolution, was submitted to the state by Senate President Daniel Steinberg, Senators Mark Leno and Ricardo Lara. The document demands suspending “direct future investments in Russia” by the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS).

"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,”
Leno said in a statement. “Californians cannot silently sit back and tacitly condone these practices by continuing to invest in and support Russian enterprises.”

Senators also asks the International Olympic Committee to provide a written guarantee from the Russian state that  visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will not be prosecuted under the new Russian legislature.

June figures showed that CalPERS investment portfolio held 53.3 percent of its $266 billion fund in US and non-U.S. stocks.  CalPERS has $1.4 billion invested in Russia, according to Joe DeAnda, a spokesman for the system.

“CalPERS is a strong defender of human and civil rights across the globe,” DeAnda told LA Times. “CalPERS always strives to be a responsible investor as we uphold our fiduciary duty to our members and their retirement security.  CalPERS will continue its prudent review of all investments and will consider current developments as it abides by all applicable laws.”

In July CalPERS created a joint venture with real estate company to become the co-owner of a of 2.2 million-square-foot shopping center in Moscow when it bought an interest in the Metropolis Shopping and Entertainment Mall from Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing.

Meanwhile, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System is the second largest public pension fund in the United States.  

A law was passed earlier this summer in Russia which levies a fine of up to 50,000 rubles (about $1,500 dollars) on any individuals, and up to 1 million rubles (about $30,000) on any organizations engaged in “propaganda of non-traditional relationships to minors”.

Non-traditional sexual relationships were informally defined by the lawmakers as those that cannot lead to the production of offspring. Under the legislature foreigners engaged to such activity would require to pay the stated fines and would be automatically deported and may be detained for up to 15 days.

California state senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (L) and State senator Mark Leno (R) (AFP Photo / Justin Sullivan)