With the World Economic Forum set to begin in Davos, there are certain to be progressive issues on the agenda, like environmentalism and gender equality. Until recently, however, the subject of L.G.B.T rights has not been a subject of panel discussions, and there is little wonder about that with participation from countries such as Russia and Uganda, where homosexuality often meets with repressive action and representatives from Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates where those in same sex unions can face capital punishment.
Daniel Loeb of Third Point Management and Paul Singer of Elliot Management have been pushing for an LGBT panel at the forum. Singer, whose son is gay, said, “In many countries, LGBT individuals face arrest, imprisonment, torture and execution just for being who they are. Some of the worst offenders are governments which are frequently invited to these meetings of world leaders. When these world leaders assemble, leaders from the LGBT activist community should be included too.”
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Last year, Loeb and Singer organized a breakfast panel that included Masha Gessen, a Russian gay activist, Alice Nikom, a lawyer who struggled to end harsh penalties against homosexuals in Cameroon and Dane Lewis, a Jamaican gay activist.
With Tim Cook, CEO of Apple coming out of the closet recently, one would think a health panel discussion on the topic would be scheduled this year. Loeb and Singer have complained that there is only one such panel scheduled and it will occur on Saturday night, when few will attend. Microsoft and Accenture management are scheduling an off-site LGBT panel.
Loeb, who advocated in favor of same sex marriage in New York State, said, “I hope this notable first step begins an overdue conversation among prominent global leaders about the importance of advancing and protecting human rights for LGBT individuals.”