POSTED: August 7th 2013

Obama defends LGBT rights and cancels meeting with Putin before G20

President Barack Obama was loud and clear on Jay Leno last night / NBC
President Barack Obama was loud and clear on Jay Leno last night / NBC

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) US President Barack Obama spoke out on the NBC Jay Leno show last night to defend the rights of gays and lesbians during the upcoming Sochi 2014 winter Games. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stood behind the law. 

Russia enacted legislation prohibiting the promotion of gay propaganda and it has been the main trending story about the Sochi Games since it went public. Moscow is about to host the IAAF World Championships of track and field but the reaction about this new legislation has prevailed to bring negative publicity about the Games to be held in February.

Surprisingly Russian sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has defended the law’s validity during the Games but other government officials have spoken out in the press that the Games will be an exception.

American Olympics media rights holder NBC raised the issue with the President last night on the Jay Leno show and he was very clear about his stance.

 “When it comes to universal rights, when it comes to people’s basic freedoms, that whether you are discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you are violating the basic morality that I think should transcend every country,” he said.

“I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

“I think (Russian president Vladimir) Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently.

“They’re athletes. They’re there to compete. If Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or on the balance beam. People’s sexual orientations shouldn’t have anything to do with it.”

Fox News is reporting this morning that the White House has confirmed that Obama has also cancelled a meeting with Putin in Moscow around the upcoming G20 Leader’s Summit taking place September 5/6 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Russia is also holding the presidency of the G20 as well.

Tensions have been raised over the agreement of Russia to allow National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum after he spent weeks in a holding area at the Moscow airport.

Obama has also said in the press that the USA would help Russia with security back-up for the Olympics and all of these events obviously could impact that decision and outcome. However as Olympic boycott rumblings have come out over the harboring of Snowden and the anti-gay law the President is against a boycott as this would mainly harm the innocent athletes.

National Russian news source gives a clear explanation of the new law: The legislation “prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality to minors” was enacted on June 30, when it was signed by president Putin. It’s an amendment to the law “On protecting children from information harmful to their health and development”.  

“If found guilty of promoting “non-traditional sexual relationships”, individuals could face fines of up to 5,000 rubles (US$150). The sum would be multiplied by 10 if those individuals appear to be civil servants. Organizations, meanwhile, would have to pay 1 million rubles (about $30,000) or have their activity suspended for 90 days if they do not comply with the fresh amendment.

 Here is the full article on


Keywords · Barack Obama · Winter Olympics · Vladimir Putin

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