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Obama On Russian Olympics: ‘I Have No Patience For Countries’ That Try To Harm LGBT People (Video)

by David Badash on August 7, 2013

in 2014 Winter Olympics,Civil Rights,News,Politics

Post image for Obama On Russian Olympics: ‘I Have No Patience For Countries’ That Try To Harm LGBT People (Video)

President Barack Obama, who often surprises the press by weighing in on items in America’s national conversation, has been quiet on the anti-gay laws Russian president Vladimir Putin has put into place. But Tuesday night on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” President Obama broke his silence on the international issue.


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“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,” Obama told Leno.

Putin has essentially made being gay illegal in Russia, causing many nations around the world to denounce his new war on gay people, forcing a boycott by many on all things Russia — especially Russian vodkas, like Stolichnaya — and putting participation of LGBT Olympic athletes or entire countries in question.

The President made clear he will be going to the G-20 summit in Russia, and that he believes the Olympic athletes should continue in the Games as planned.

LOOK: Vladimir Putin Just Made It Illegal To Tell Kids Gay People Exist

“Something that shocked me about Russia — and I’m surprised this is not a huge story — suddenly, homosexuality is against the law,” Leno told the President. “I mean, this seems like Germany: Let’s round up the Jews, let’s round up the gays, let’s round up the blacks. I mean, it starts with that. You round up people who you don’t — I mean, why is not more of the world outraged at this?”

The President was measured but emphatic in his response.

“Well, I’ve been very clear that when it comes to universal rights, when it comes to people’s basic freedoms, that whether you are discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you are violating the basic morality that I think should transcend every country.”

“And 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 in Russia is not unique,” the President continued:

“When I traveled to Africa, there were some countries that are doing a lot of good things for their people, who we’re working with and helping on development issues, but in some cases have persecuted gays and lesbians. And it makes for some uncomfortable press conferences sometimes. But one of the things that I think is very 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 believe that that’s a precept that’s not unique to America, that’s something that should apply everywhere.”

When asked by Leno if he thought the anti-gay laws will affect the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, President Obama said, “I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently. They’re athletes, they’re there to compete.”

LOOK: You’ll Have No Idea How Much Some Russians Hate Gays Until You Watch This

Obama’s support of LGBT people was strong, as he added — perhaps forgetting the Russian Olympics are for winter sports — “if Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam, and people’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have anything to do with it.”




Hat tip and transcript: Buzzfeed



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Mykelbarber August 7, 2013 at 8:49 am

I didn't hear, "My administration is seeking trade sanctions…we are imposing an embargo….etc". So, all talk and no action makes for a lot of good PR, but not a lot of good progress.

Llantha August 7, 2013 at 11:55 am

One step at a time. Sort of a fundamental negotiating tenet.

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