White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement the Kremlin’s decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden last week is among the factors that contributed to the decision to cancel the meeting that was to have taken place before the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. An administration official told the Washington Blade that Russia’s LGBT rights record also played a role in Obama’s decision to cancel the talks between him and his Russian counterpart.
Obama is still scheduled to travel to the G-20 summit that will take place on September 5-6.
“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 12 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,” Carney said.
The announcement came hours after Obama weighed in on the broadly worded law that Putin signed in June that bans gay propaganda to minors.
“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,” the president said during an appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.
In addition to the gay propaganda law, LGBT rights advocates have criticized Putin for signing a second statute that bans foreign same-sex couples and those from countries that have extended marriage rights to gays and lesbians from adopting Russian children. A 2012 law requires LGBT advocacy groups and other organizations that receive funding from outside Russia to register as a “foreign agent.”
Actor George Takei and playwright Harvey Fierstein are among those who have urged the U.S. to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February over the country’s LGBT rights record. Author Dan Savage and LGBT rights advocate Cleve Jones have also called for a boycott of Russian vodka.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said last month the U.S. does not support a boycott of the Sochi games.