Leaders of the world’s top institutions, corporations and businesses, who are meeting in the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, were urged to challenge discrimination against LGBTI people.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged executives in Davos to use their influence to drive change in countries where LGBTI people face repression.
This is the first time that LGBTI rights are on the official agenda at the World Economic Forum.
The issue has been raised in the context of Davos, where political leaders from countries which discriminate against LGBTI people, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria and Russia meet global leaders and business elite.
Investors, business elite and corporations were pressed to exert their influence on the leaders of those countries which continue to discriminate against LGBTI people.
Biden told executives, including Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder Airbnb, Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO Coca Cola Company, and Anthony Scaramucci, founder of hedge fund SkyBridge Capital, to push for change, reported Reuters.
“You can change the terms of debate,” he said. “You actually put governments on notice.”
The vice president said “we still have a long way to go,” admitting there are still 30 states in US “where you can get married in the morning and fired at noon,” and 75 countries where being LGBTI is illegal, reported TMN.
He said companies should “put the world on notice” that they’re not going to discriminate against LGBTI people.
Biden also stated that he and President Barack Obama privately raise the issue of repression of the LGBTI 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 LGBTI people.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the US’s largest LGBTI civil rights organisation, said business leaders should take the opportunity in Davos to confront the leaders of countries with “hateful laws”.
Some of the world’s leading corporations have been key to lobbying for change on marriage equality worldwide.
Corporations 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.
Biden has previously championed LGBTI rights in the US: In 2012, a year he and President Barack Obama sought re-election, he stated that he supports marriage equality. Months later, Obama followed suit, making him the first sitting president to make such a declaration.