Lean on anti-gay nations, Biden tells business leaders in Davos

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the attendees during the Annual Meeting 2016 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich - RTX239HZ

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the attendees during the Annual Meeting 2016 of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich - RTX239HZ

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged executives in Davos to use their influence to drive change in countries where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face repression, putting gay rights at the heart of this year’s meeting.

The issue is on the official agenda for the first time at the World Economic Forum, where political leaders from countries that discriminate against gay people, such as Nigeria and Russia, schmooze business leaders and billionaire investors.

Biden told U.S. executives including Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of apartment-sharing firm Airbnb, Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca Cola Company, and Anthony Scaramucci, founder of hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, to push for change.

“You can change the terms of debate,” he said. “You actually put governments on notice.”

He said he and President Barack Obama privately raise the issue of repression of the LGBT community when they meet political leaders.

“I have had some run-ins with at least four heads of state already on this,” said Biden.

Banging his fist on the table, Biden said there was no national cultural justification to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“People used to be cannibals as part of their culture, people used to do terrible things as part of their culture,” he said.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the United States’ largest LGBT civil rights organization, said business leaders should take the opportunity in Davos to confront the leaders of countries with “hateful laws.”

Big business has been key to lobbying for change on gay marriage around the world. Some leading companies, including Google, Twitter and eBay, released videos of their employees voicing their support for marriage equality ahead of a country-wide vote on the issue in Ireland.

Apple CEO Tim Cook came out last year, but according to the U.S.-based Center for Talent Innovation, 41 percent of LGBT people do not feel comfortable disclosing their sexuality at work.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage nationwide last year but it is still legal in many U.S. states to fire someone based on their sexual orientation.

  • schellekensr

    Not quite sure why an American vice president got the notion that he has the right to tell other countries how to act in this matter. There are plenty of nations who abhor abortion – which seems to be the major birth control method in the U.S.
    As a Catholic, Biden steps outside the bounds of his own religious teaching – in both issues.

  • Ban the countries from their citizens from entering the USA. That would make them change in a hurry. Also cut off any aid.

  • Abortion has gone down in the United States. Abortion is not the major method of birth control in the United States unless you consider the pill abortion. If you are Catholic you know religious law and government law are separate. I trust you are familiar with Paul so you know his teaching on LAW. Also Mr. Biden represents all people in the United States. If he is unable to separate his religious teachings from his elected job he should step down. He can so he stays. Many people are not sup[porters of abortion. However the law is the law. Also not sure why you are commenting on abortion..did I miss something in this article?

  • Where is abortion mentioned? I think you have your articles mixed up.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    The U.S. consistently tells other countries what to do; your assertions are both disingenuous and lack evidence. The Catholic Church teaches nothing advocating the denial of basic civil rights, though they did back during Inquisition Days.

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  • Martyn

    Why do religious people assert their beliefs as though the rest of the world follows them in their faith? Like most people who don’t follow a religion I really don’t care what the Bible, Q’uran or any other religious text says. To me it’s fairy tales. You start from a position that the reader believes getting drunk, gambling, premarital sex etc. is ‘sinful’, but if a person doesn’t subscribe to the moral code of an ancient and basic society what are you saying that’s of any use? The Bible propounds many things we would all abhor (kill your own children anyone? How about stoning? Or pro-slavery?), so why Corinthians 5 and 6 is of interest when there’s so much in it that is grim baffles me. By the way, there has been some great writing on ethics and morality in the last two hundred years. It’s a little more nuanced than ‘Thou shalt not…’

  • thor

    Joe Biden has no right to even try lead other countries to follow the wrong ways of USA, just as she violates all moral rights to force businesses or nations to be pro-LGBT. So sad ?