Obama Cancels Putin Meeting, Has No Patience For Antigay Law

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com August 07 2013 11:09 AM ET

The White House announced Tuesday that President Barack Obama would not meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a one-on-one meeting this September because of the country's record on human rights, among other conflicts that have arisen like granting asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

The meeting was scheduled to take place after the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. The meeting was canceled due to a "lack of progress on issues like missile defense, arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said according to the Washington Blade.

The announcement followed Obama's appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Tuesday in a wide-sweeping interview, which included conversations on the economy, the Affordable Care Act, and the current law in Russia that places a ban on so-called homosexual propaganda.

Leno asked Obama about his thoughts on the new law, which came about seven months before the opening ceremonies of Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"You round up people who you don't like," Leno said of Putin's recent actions. "Why is not more of the world outraged?"

Under the law, both foreigners and Russian citizens can be arrested for disseminating or promoting homosexuality or LGBT rights. LGBT foreigners could also be deported, and that includes athletes of the upcoming Olympic games.

"I've been very clear that when it comes to universal rights, when it comes to people's basic freedoms, that whether you're discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, you are violating the basic morality that I think should transcend every country," Obama said. "I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.

Now, what's happening to them in Russia is not unique. When I traveled to Africa, there were some countries who are doing a lot of good things for their people, who are working with them on development issues, but in some cases they persecute gays and lesbians. It makes for some uncomfortable press conferences sometimes. But one of the things that I think is more important for me to speak out on is making sure that people are treated fairly and justly, because that's what we stand for, and I think that's a precept that's not unique to America, that's something that should apply everywhere."

Obama added later in the interview that LGBT athletes, when they participate in the games, should be judged on their performance, and not by their sexual orientation or gender expression.