The 2014 World Economic Forum, to be held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, January 22 – 25, will host panels on LGBT rights around the world, thanks to a partnership between the Human Rights Campaign and two major donors to the Forum, Paul Singer and Dan Loeb.
This year’s theme for the WEF is “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business,” and will focus on the profound change happening across multiple layers of cultural, political, and economic life thanks to the rise of technological advances.
Addressing the ways that the spread of LGBT rights in the Western world have affected queer communities around the world, two panels will be held in Davos, “Gay Rights—Progress and Backlash, Reports from Russia, Uganda, and Jamaica,” and “The LGBT Agenda, US Politics, & US Foreign Policy.”
“There is a systemic repression of human rights of gays and lesbians in a number of countries represented at the World Economic Forum,” a source close to Singer told Politico about the panels.
The aim of the panels is to use the meeting of many business and world leaders as a chance to promote awareness around LGBT issues, and bring to light the disparity in the ways the LGBT community is treated by different nations around the world.
“Any gathering of business and political leaders from across the globe should include a spotlight on human rights. All of us convening here have an opportunity to move the needle for freedom of LGBT individuals in our countries and around the world. There was a void in Davos,” said the source.
LGBT political leaders will be flown in from all over the world to speak at the panels, though the invitation of one activist in particular, Masha Gessen, is speculated to have quite an impact on the WEF’s attendees.
Gessen, an outspoken Russian lesbian journalist and activist, is currently attempting to move her family—she is a mother of four—to the United States because of Russia’s notorious anti-gay legislation. Most recently, it was announced that a bill which would actively take away the children of gay and lesbian parents in Russia will be reintroduced in Parliament after the Olympics.
She is also the author of “The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin,” a widely acclaimed study of how one unremarkable Russian politician became the ruler of modern Russia. Her forthcoming books deal with the issues faced by the LGBT community in Russia in light of the “anti-propaganda” legislation, and chronicle the consequences of jailing the feminist activists of Pussy Riot, as well as the lives of gay couples in Russia.
The panels are part of a campaign initiated by the HRC last year, which aims to focus on gay rights on a global scale.