Edinburgh Uni invests millions in company that donates to anti-LGBT+ American Republicans
It comes as the university claims to ‘celebrate’ and ‘support’ its LGBT+ community
The University of Edinburgh has £1.9 million of investments in a company that provides support for Republican politicians in the United States, The Edinburgh Tab can reveal.
The Charles Schwab Corporation is an American financial services organisation that donates large sums of money to Republicans and organisations that help to elect them.
The company in which Edinburgh Uni invests and its employees donated nearly $5 million to Republican causes in 2020 alone, according to data obtained by the Open Secrets organisation.
Edinburgh SU LGBT+ reps have condemned investment in the company, particularly when, in 2020, its employees donated $10,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, which has recently passed the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ act, which bans the discussion of “sexual orientation or gender identity” in schools with children under the age of nine. Campaigners and charities such as the Human Rights Campaign have called the legislation “discriminatory” and shameful.
The revelations about Edinburgh University’s investments in the Republican party-supporting company come during Pride month, which has seen the uni declare support for its LGBT+ community.
Jamie Prada, the LGBT+ officer at Edinburgh’s SU, said “our university puts money where its priorities lie” and in response to the investments a spokesperson for the university told The Edinburgh Tab that “the university remains steadfast in its commitment to LGBT+ equality and inclusion”.
Criticising the funding decision, they added: “The University must ensure that the companies they invest in represent the values of the institution”.
A spokesperson for The University of Edinburgh told The Edinburgh Tab: “The university remains steadfast in its commitment to LGBT+ equality and inclusion”, going on to say that its approach to investment included a “determination to make the world a better place”.
The decision to invest in a company that donates to US Republicans has proved problematic for some because politicians from the “GOP” have opposed pro-LGBT+ rights legislation in recent years.
Senator Marco Rubio is backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which received approximately $1 million from the Charles Schwab Corporation’s employees in 2020. Mr Rubio recently came out in support of the Parental Rights in Education bill (Don’t Say Gay bill), further linking the investments of Edinburgh University to anti-LGBT+ politicians.
In 2019, President Donald Trump, a Republican who has also received donations from individuals at the Charles Schwab Corporation, blocked the passage of the Equality Act, describing the law that would have prevented discrimination against sexual and gender minorities as filled with “poison”. The former president also recently described teaching children about sexuality and gender as child abuse.
The Charles Schwab Corporation gave around $160,000 to Republicans in 2020, whilst their employees donated around $3.7 million in an individual capacity.
Whilst a majority of donations go to Republicans, its employees also donated over $800,000 to Democratic causes in 2020 that are generally pro-LGBT+, including Joe Biden.
Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s Jamie Prada told The Tab that such investment choices happen when “people at decision-level positions are not informed about the many challenges we face as queer people”.
The funding disclosure follows a string of controversies in the last few months regarding LGBT+ students at Edinburgh. A recent petition by students accuses the uni of “failing in its duty of care” to protect trans students. During the March EUSA presidential campaign, trans rights posters were also torn down in Bristo Square.
Responding in full, a spokesperson for The University of Edinburgh said: “The University remains steadfast in its commitment to LGBT+ equality and inclusion, fostering a welcoming, inclusive and supportive environment for our whole community.
“The University’s approach to responsible investment has a firm focus on openness, social and civic responsibility, and a determination to make the world a better place. Edinburgh was the first university in Europe to sign the UN Principles of Responsible Investment, and we have committed to avoid investments in fossil fuels and tobacco, for example.
“The University’s Endowment Fund is managed via an externally managed investment portfolio. This contains several dozen stocks, of which The Charles Schwab Corporation represents a small amount. All of our investments are reviewed regularly and amended, if necessary, to ensure that the University’s values are represented in the companies in which we invest.”
In response to the universities statement, Jamie Prada said: “The university said it best. The university must ensure that the companies they invest in represent the values of the institution. Being an advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights also requires you to be a responsible consumer.
“These situations happen when those at decision-level positions are not informed about the many challenges we face as queer people.
“Standing up for our rights also requires a minimum level of education regarding LGBTQIA+ liberation. Our university must know what companies support us, which discriminate against us, and which profit from our struggle. Then, they should make a conscious decision about where to invest their money.
“Actions speak louder than words”.
The University of Edinburgh invests hundreds of millions of pounds in a number of companies, the details of which can be viewed here.
The following have been approached for comment on this story: The Charles Schwab Corporation, The Republican Party of Florida, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee.
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