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Topics In the News
President Obama to Meet with Russian GLBTQ Dissidents
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 09/04/13
Last updated on: 09/06/13
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A protester arrested in Moscow in May, 2013.

While in St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit, President Obama, who had previously cancelled a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin, will meet with human rights activists, including representatives of glbtq groups. The meeting is scheduled for September 6, 2013 at St. Petersburg's Crowne Plaza Hotel. In addition, other world leaders are also expected to raise the question of anti-gay bigotry at the summit.

According to Max Seddon at BuzzFeed, representatives of at least four Russian non-governmental organizations have been invited to the meeting. Among those attending include veteran human rights activists Lev Ponomarev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva, legal aid NGO director Pavel Chikov, and Coming Out, a St. Petersburg-based LGBT organization. Another local LGBT group, the LGBT Network, is also believed to be attending, though director Igor Kochetkov declined to comment to BuzzFeed, saying that he had been "asked not to say anything."

The President's invitation to meet with human rights activists underscores his criticism of the vicious anti-gay pogrom currently underway in Russia. In August, Obama said that he had "no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them."

On September 2, 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that he will raise the issue of Russia's "anti-propaganda" law at the summit.

The UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "Britain is most comfortable with itself when we are saving lives, standing up for human rights overseas. So we should do that in conversation with Russia and other countries. It would say something terrible about Britain if we were reluctant to do that. We are one of the world's oldest democracies. We are clear about our values. We must not retreat."

Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird has also spoken forcefully against Russian homophobia, calling the "anti-propaganda" law "hateful" and expediting the granting of asylum to glbtq Russians fleeing persecution in their homeland.

It is expected that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will also speak out against the Russian "anti-propaganda" law at the G-20 summit.

As Joseph Patrick McCormick reports in PinkNews, demonstrations against Russian homophobia have been held in cities around the globe, including Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, and London.

Prime Minister Cameron's commitment to raise the question at the summit came just hours before a "Love Russia, Hate Homophobia" rally at Downing Street on September 3.

Peter Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, and co-organizer of the London protest, said: "The most effective reproach to Putin would be for the other world leaders at G20 to pledge their joint commitment to LGBT rights.

The following clip is from the London protest.

The video below reports on the Berlin demonstration against Russian homophobia.

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