Obama to meet with LGBT activists in Russia

By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

President Obama plans to meet with lesbian, gay, bisexual andtransgender rights activists while he's in Russia this week for the G-20summit.

Igor Kochetkov of LGBT Network told the Associated Pressthat his group is accepting an invitation to meet with Obama in St.Petersburg on Thursday. The St. Petersburg-based advocacy group ComingOut said it was invited but hasn't decided whether to go.

The White House did not have immediate comment on the meeting, which was first reported by BuzzFeed.

Russiahas faced international criticism since it passed a law in June banningthe promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors. Humanrights groups have reported there's been an uptick of violence againstthe country's LGBT community since the laws passed. The legislation hasled to calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Lastmonth, Obama said he didn't support boycotting the Sochi games,because he didn't want to penalize American athletes. But Obama has beensharply critical of the Russian laws.

"Nobody is more offendedthan me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you've beenseeing in Russia," Obama said last month.

The meeting will almostcertainly add tension to the already tense relationship between Obamaand Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama canceled a scheduledmeeting with Putin in Moscow before the G-20 summit. The cancellationfollowed a string of disputes, including Russia's decision to grantasylum to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden andits blocking of action by the United Nations Security Council againstSyria.


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