(619) 505-7777

Obama, Cameron in Russia, raise concerns about LGBT issues

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron each have made clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin this week that they are concerned about the abuse of LGBT rights in the vast nation stretching from eastern Europe to Asia.

Obama took it one step further and met with LGBT Russians in St. Petersburg, where the G20 leadership is meeting. The President spoke with gay Russians, including Olga Lenkova of Coming Out and Igor Kochetkov of the Russian LGBT Network.

Cameron tweeted this: "2am meeting with President Putin. A candid conversation on #Syria. I also raised concerns about gay rights." He met for more than a half-hour with Putin, and No. 10 Downing Street said Putin's answers were "evasive" and reflected a deep divide over issues.

Putin has been on the defensive about LGBT rights since he signed into law in July a draconian “gay propaganda” bill that essentially makes it illegal to talk about LGBT issues in public and a crime to talk about anything LGBT with minors. The law has sparked an uptick in violence against LGBT Russians, documented on video by anti-gay groups and shared widely in the western world.

Progressive nations have railed against the Russian law, fearing the dire effects on athletes and visitors who will be visiting Russia for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The controversial law has sparked protests worldwide, including a boycott of Russian vodka, but calls to boycott the Winter Olympics have been rejected.