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Could Obama be Imprisoned for Pro-Gay ’Propaganda’?

Tuesday Aug 6, 2013
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In light of the passage and enactment of the gay propaganda law and subsequent human rights abuses silently condoned by the russian government against its citizens, a group of nine gay elected officials from New York state have written President Obama, urging him to cancel an upcoming diplomatic trip to Russia to meet with President Vladmir Putin, stating that as a public supporter of LGBT rights in the United States, Obama himself could be subject to arrest.

The letter from the New York lawmakers, which was reprinted and distributed as a press release, states the position that "Given that President Putin and Russia have enacted laws to criminalize gay people and supporters and deny human rights to their LGBT citizens, they should not be the beneficiary of any trip by your office until they fully restore all civil rights to LGBT people in their country."

Under current russian law, police can arrest both citizens and foreigners who are deemed to be publicly gay or pro-gay, can be arrested and detained for up to two weeks. As the letter’s signers point out to the president, "Under their new law, as a pro-gay supporter even you could be subject to arrest and imprisonment while in Russia."

In their letter, the nine empire state officials reminded Obama of a 2011 White House memorandum directing "executive officers and agencies dealing in foreign affairs to address human rights abuses against LGBT people abroad and to pressure foreign governments to decriminalize homosexuality." They further urged the president to act on that memorandum and "Refuse any diplomatic mission to Russia until President Putin stops these abuses now and agrees to make Russia a country that proudly supports its LGBT community and its allies worldwide."

Obama had agreed to meet Putin in Moscow ahead of the September G20 economic summit in Saint Petersburg. In a press conference yesterday, White House spokesman Jim Carney told reporters "While we have a wide range of interests with the Russians, we are continuing to evaluate the utility of a summit."

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