This morning in Davos, hedge funders Dan Loeb and Paul Singer, along with sponsors that included The Huffington Post and Microsoft, held a panel on gay rights around the world.
Interestingly, the event — as Maggie Haberman first reported a couple days ago — wasn’t an official event of the World Economic Forum. In fact, there are no official panels or events devoted to gay rights (even though there are events associated with other big social topics, including gender equality).
We caught up with Loeb about why he got involved in this event.
“It’s an important issue to me… I’m a value investor, and I like to find things that are not appreciated broadly. This is an issue that’s at a tipping point. We’ve had a lot of attention on it in the states with the marriage equality fight… I think this was a great panel because it focused on the plight of gay people. It’s not about marriage in these countries. (It’s about) gay people being murdered in Jamaica and imprisoned in Nigeria.”
Loeb is hopeful that soon the World Economic Forum will promote the issue of gay rights.
“I think this is the sort of thing that will catch on very rapidly. To the extent the Forum is committed to making the world a better place, this is a great cause because it’s a very solvable problem.”
As for what needs to be solved specifically, says Loeb, “There are two issues. In the United States, continuing to advocate for marriage equality and making sure gays can’t be discriminated in the workplace. And internationally, there needs to be more awareness that in countries like Nigeria you can be put in prison for 14 years if you’re gay, or 10 years just for supporting a gay organisation…. And yet the Forum allowed Nigeria to put on the lunch yesterday… I don’t think the issue has clicked with them yet. I think when it does hopeful you’ll see some change and pressure put on these countries that this kind of discrimination is just not cool on any level.”
When asked whether Nigeria’s sponsorship of a lunch at Davos had anything to do with their not being any official gay rights event, Loeb answered “I don’t know.”