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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2014 12:59 PM
From: Representative Mark B. Cohen
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation prohibiting the investment of public funds in countries that impose criminal penalties against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the near future, I will reintroduce legislation formerly introduced by Rep. Michael McGeehan (HB 2192) that would require the compilation of a list of countries that impose criminal penalties against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity - also known as state sponsors of criminalized sexual orientation or gender identity - and publish the list in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would be prohibited from investing in those countries. The bill would also allow for humanitarian exemptions as provided for by the United States Government.

In 2014, Uganda and Nigeria toughened their laws criminalizing homosexual behavior. According to Amnesty International, 38 of Africa’s 54 countries have banned same-sex relationships with penalties ranging from multiple years in prison to life sentences and even death. With the persecution of gays escalating across the Middle East, India, and Russia and criminalized in upwards of 80 nations, the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in many parts of the world is dire.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should not tolerate, support or invest in countries that imprison, torture and kill citizens based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. By divesting or choosing not to invest money in nations that institutionalize discrimination against their homosexual citizens, Pennsylvania would send a message that we support the human and civil rights of the LGBT community world-wide. This type of action is not without precedent. Case in point, Act No. 2010-44 requires the Commonwealth to divest from companies doing business in Iran and Sudan, based on their atrocities and human rights abuses. The divestment campaign in South Africa is another example of a campaign which contributed to the dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa in the 1980’s.

Please join me in improving the human and civil rights of the LGBT community world-wide by sponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Matt Hurlburt of my office at 787-4117 or mhurlbur@pahouse.net .

Previous sponsors HB 2192: McGeehan, Youngblood, Rozzi, Schlossberg, O'Brien, K. Boyle, Molchany, Kinsey, Fleck, Davis, Mahoney, DeLuca, Kim, Kirkland, Cohen, Ravenstahl, Roebuck, Frankel, McCarter and Sturla.

Thank you.

Introduced as HB1283