By Emily Wilhelm
President Obama flew to Russia to sit down with Russian activist and LGBT group members at the G20 International Cooperation Forum in St. Petersburg. He talked about the highly criticized anti-gay laws enforced by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin and Obama were originally intended to sit down to discuss smoothing over relations between countries, but once Putin enacted the strict laws literally banning speech about LGBT topics, Obama took a different course of action.
Obama told reporters, “nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia.”
Obama has been on board for equal rights for several years, speaking about it on a trip to Russia at the Parallel Civil Society Conference stating, “I don’t think these are American ideals and I don’t think they are the monopoly of one country. They’re universal values. They’re human rights.”
23 leading LGBT Russian activists called for a broad boycott of Russian products, as well as fighting the decision to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games scheduled to be held in Sochi, Russia.
Local communities within the Coachella Valley showed their support in various ways. Palm Springs bar and restaurant Lulu refuses to serve Russian vodka and has a sign outside stating, “We have an excellent selection of non-Russian vodkas” with gay pride colors gleaming colorfully behind a pictured martini glass.
The Greater Palms Springs Pride has announced that Russia’s Sochi Pride 2014 has been deemed the Grand Marshal of the 27th annual Pride Parade in Palm Springs. It shows solidarity between the LGBT community here and in Russia while fighting the injustice against human rights.
Last month, Obama sat down with Jay Leno stating that he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.” It is important to ensure that those, both outside and within our community, receive the human rights and equality they deserve as individuals or as a group.