James Silkenat, president of the American Bar Association: Condemn Russia's anti-gay laws at Russia Forum NY
  • Petitioned James R. Silkenat

This petition was delivered to:

President, American Bar Association
James R. Silkenat

James Silkenat, president of the American Bar Association: Condemn Russia's anti-gay laws at Russia Forum NY

    1. Bert Leatherman
    2. Petition by

      Bert Leatherman

      Annapolis, United States

November 2013


Victory! As a result of your efforts to hold American Bar Association president James Silkenat accountable for his participation in Russia Forum NY, an event scheduled for November 18, 2013, to promote investment in Russia, Mr. Silkenat has withdrawn as keynote speaker. He has stated that he wants to "put an end to human rights abuses" in Russia and that he will work to "oppose Russia’s policies and practices that oppress the LGBT community." However, our work isn't done yet! Even though Mr. Silkenat has withdrawn as keynote speaker, the law firm Goodwin Procter is still moving forward with plans to host Russia Forum NY, and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is gearing up for its own 2013 Russia Day, also scheduled for November 18. With only a few days before these events, it is urgent that we come together to petition Goodwin Procter and the NYSE to cancel the events. Making money on the backs of LGBT Russians suffering physical and psychological violence at the hands of government-backed neofascist gangs is no way to do business! We must call for divestment from, not investment in, a country where the state encourages such hateful pogroms and the law makes it a crime even to speak up for LGBT rights. Therefore, please join me in calling on the NYSE and Goodwin Procter to cancel their Russia Day events by signing this new petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/new-york-stock-exchange-and-goodwin-procter-cancel-russia-day-2013 Thank you for standing in solidarity with Russia's violently persecuted LGBT community, which urgently needs our support at this critical time.

As times grow tougher in Russia, the Putin regime is looking for a scapegoat, which it is has found in Russia’s gay community. According to a study this year by Global Financial Integrity, “the Russian economy suffered an outflow of US$782.5 billion between 1994 and 2011.” With capital becoming ever scarcer, Russia is fighting hard to lure businesses from around the world to invest there. But until Russia ends its brutal crackdown on LGBT people — including officially sanctioned kidnapping, torture, and rape of gay youth and severe laws prohibiting any expression of support for LGBT rights — Russia must be challenged, not financially supported.

James R. Silkenat, president of the American Bar Association (ABA), is lending his credibility, and that of his associated organizations — the ABA, Human Rights First, and the World Justice Project — to the effort to entice American investors into investing in the Russian economy. On November 18, 2013, at the offices of Goodwin Procter, a New York City law firm, he will be the keynote speaker of the Russia Forum NY investment seminar, a role from which he has refused to withdraw.

The ABA president’s support for investment in Russia is shocking. As was done to combat South Africa's apartheid, the call to Americans of conscience should be to divest from Russia, not invest. Mr. Silkenat, since you have chosen to remain involved with the forum, you must use your platform to offer a full-throated, unvarnished warning to Russian government officials that their abuse of basic human rights is bad for business.

Recent signatures


    1. James Silkenat withdraws from Russia event!

      Bert Leatherman
      Petition Organizer
      ABA President Withdraws From NYC Russian Investment Forum

      BY ANDY HUMM | The president of the American Bar Association, who was set to be the keynote speaker at a daylong New York conference on November 18 about investing in Russia, has withdrawn from the event. After pressure and entreaties from gay leaders, an ABA spokesperson said that James Silkenat will not be speaking at the forum.

    2. Reached 750 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Ken Krom ATLANTA, GA
      • 11 months ago

      Human rights everywhere are important

    • Emily O'Hare CARRBORO, NC
      • 11 months ago

      much opposed to any kind of

      discrimination--it diminishes us all.

      • 11 months ago

      I believe in equal rights for all.

    • stana willhite ELK GROVE, CA
      • 11 months ago

      equal right for everyone

    • Gary Mosby KANSAS CITY, MO
      • 11 months ago

      1) I believe in equal rights

      2) I'm openly Gay and would not want it to be any other way


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