President Barack Obama, as reported earlier today, has canceled his long-scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing tensions stemming from the imbroglio over granting asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden, and “human rights” issues. But to the chagrin of some in the LGBT community, and despite the President’s chastising of Russia’s anti-gay laws last night on Leno, LGBT civil rights were not specified in the official statement, which the New Civil Rights Movement received via an email from the White House (below).
Now, blogger John Aravosis has determined that indeed LGBT civil rights played a part in Obama’s decision to cancel his meeting with his Russian counterpart.
“An Obama administration official just confirmed to me that today’s sudden cancellation of President Obama’s anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during next month’s G20 meeting in Russia was in part due to the President’s concerns about the deteriorating gay rights situation in Russia,” Aravosis writes:
The official told me that among the concerns leading to the cancellation of the bilateral meeting with Putin was the worsening human rights situation in Russia, which specifically included the Russian government’s recent crackdown on the gay and trans community.
Aravosis acknowledges that “no one is claiming that gay rights is the sole, or even lead, reason that the President canceled the Putin meeting,” but notes, “it is hugely significant that the administration is acknowledging that Russia’s draconian crackdown on gay and trans people figured into the President’s calculus at all.”
Via the White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2013
Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Travel to Russia
Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda withRussia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September. We value the achievements made with Russia in the President’s first term, including the New START Treaty, and cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. However, given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda. Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States, so on Friday, August 9, Secretaries Hagel and Kerry will meet with their Russian counterparts in a 2+2 format in Washington to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship.
The President still looks forward to traveling to St. Petersburg on September 5-6 to attend the G-20 Summit.
Image: President Barack Obama and members of the American delegation, including National Security Advisor General Jim Jones, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Bill Burns, and NSC Senior Director for Russian Affairs Mike McFaul, meet with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 7, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, via Flickr
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