Two of the hedge-fund industry's most prominent supporters of gay rights brought the issue to the forefront of the World Economic Forum last week.
Elliott Management's Paul Singer and Third Point's Daniel Loeb hosted a panel featuring gay-rights activists from Russia, Cameroon and Jamaica, three countries where those rights either do not exist or are under assault. The two hedge fund managers followed that lineup on a panel of their own, which also featured Human Rights Campaign chief Chad Griffin.
Both Singer and Loeb have financed pro-gay marriage campaigns across the U.S. And their event was a direct challenge to some of Davos' other attendees: Russia, which last year passed a new anti-gay law and which has threatened athletes and visitors who plan to attend next month's winter Olympics, held a party celebrating those games nearby, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who recently signed anti-gay legislation, was also in town.
"Fifty feet across the street is President Jonathan," Griffin noted. "He wants your business. Ensure that you ask the questions."
The earlier panel featured Cameroon lawyer Alice Nkom, Jamaican activist Dane Lewis and Russian activist Masha Gessen, who in addition to being a lesbian is a major critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among those in the audience to hear her was fellow Putin critic William Browder, who leads hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management.
"It's not cool to be anti-gay," Loeb said.