LGBT rights panel at Davos: ‘We still have a huge struggle’ for equality

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A panel at the 2014 Davos Annual Meeting convened to discuss LGBT issues around the world concluded that “we still have a huge struggle”, for equality.

The panel was moderated by CNN and Time Magazine’s Fareed Zakaria, and was hosted by Microsoft and the Huffington Post. The forum took place at the beginning of the second day at Davos.

On the panel was Dane Lewis, J-FLAG Executive Director, Masha Gessen, a Russian and American journalist, Chad Griffin – President of the Human Rights Campaign, Paul Singer – Elliott Management Corporation founder, Dan Loeb – Third Point founder and Alice Nkom – a Cameroonian LGBT activist and lawyer.

“The whole purpose of this morning is to give you a sense of what’s going on around the world with this issue,” Zakaria said at the start of the panel.

“We still have a huge struggle,” said Lewis said.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, Navi Pillay, said the panel was convened at a relevant time given the moves away from equality in Nigeria, where an anti-gay law was recently signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, who is at Davos, and India’s Supreme Court upholding a law which criminalises gay sex.

There has been worldwide condemnation of Nigeria after the country’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law a draconian anti-gay bill.

Anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union may be jailed for up to 14 years. The law also bans people who register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or who publicly show that they are in a same-sex relationship.

Gay sex was re-banned in India after the December reinstatement of Section 377 of the Penal Code which was overturned by the Delhi High Court in 2009. It reinstated the 153-year old law which makes gay sex punishable with up to ten years in jail.

The decision was made on World Human Rights Day and makes India the 42nd Commonwealth nation to make same-sex activity illegal.