World Economic Forum to Spotlight LGBT Rights

Megadonors Paul Singer and Dan Loeb plan to use the annual World Economic Forum to spark a discussion about LGBT rights.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

January 20 2014 3:55 PM ET

Marriage equality supporter and Republican maegadonor Paul Singer. 

The generally sedate World Economic Forum could get a bit more controversial this year, thanks to Republican megadonors Paul Singer, Dan Loeb — and the Human Rights Campaign.

Politico reports that Singer and Loeb have teamed up with HRC to use the annual economic gathering to take a stand for LGBT rights, hosting pro-equality activists from around the globe, including Masha Gessen, a lesbian mother of four, Russian journalist, and outspoken critic of Russia's crackdown on LGBT rights. 

The World Economic Forum, which begins Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, will feature two panels focusing on LGBT rights, according to Politico. The first, titled "Gay Rights — Progress and Backlash," will include Gessen as a featured speaker and examine the state of anti-LGBT laws in Russia, Uganda and Jamaica. The second panel, titled "The LGBT Agenda, U.S. Politics, and U.S. Foreign Policy," will include Singer, Loeb, HRC president Chad Griffin, and Microsoft executive vice president Brad Smith. Both panels will be moderated by CNN's Fareed Zakaria, and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights will also address the international attendees. 

Although Singer is a Republican, the hedge fund manager has long been a prominent supporter of marriage equality initiatives around the country. In 2012, Singer donated $250,000 to Maryland's successful effort to uphold the state's recently passed marriage equality law. In August of that year, Singer created a super PAC aimed at convincing Republican lawmakers to support same-sex marriage. 

Loeb is also a hedge fund manager, and founder of the $13 billion firm Third Point, according to Forbes. Loeb had a long history of donating to Democratic candidates and causes, but began donating more heavily to Republican candidates after President Barack Obama's inauguration, according to the Wall Street Journal. Last year, Loeb was among the 113 Republicans who cosigned an amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry, urging that body to strike down California's Proposition 8, which the court eventually did on a technicality in June.

Tags: Business

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