President Obama says he has “no patience” for countries, like Russia, that intimidate and harm individuals based on their sexual orientation.
In an interview with Jay Leno on NBC’s Tonight Show, President Obama was asked about the implementation of homophobic censorship laws in Russia.
The president replied saying he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”
Russia has said it will enforce the legislation when it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“Do you think it will affect the Olympics?” Leno asked President Obama.
He replied: “Every judgement 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.”
He added: “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.”
But the president was careful to avoid singling out Russia, pointing out that many leaders he meets with support similar legislation in their nations.
“When I travelled 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.”
A UK Government source also said that they anticipated the issue of homophobic oppression in Russia would be raised at the G20 Heads of Government meeting, which is taking place in St Petersburg next month.