Human Rights First Praises Obama’s Plan to Meet with Russian Civil Society Activists
St. Petersburg, Russia – As President Obama heads to St. Petersburg to attend the G-20 Summit later this week, Human Rights First welcomes the news that he will meet with Russian civil society activists, including LGBT activists. Last week, Human Rights First issued its report Convenient Targets: The Anti-”Propaganda” Law & the Threat to LGBT Rights in Russia that recommended President Obama spend time during his trip to St. Petersburg hearing directly from activists about what forms of U.S. support would be helpful in response to Russia’s backslide on human rights.
“President Obama’s decision to meet with civil society sends a clear signal that the United States stands in solidarity with those targeted by Russia’s civil society and LGBT crackdown,” said Human Rights First’s Innokenty Grekov, who is in St. Petersburg this week. “In addition to this important meeting, President Obama should also speak out against Russia’s human rights abuses and reaffirm that the United States stands firmly on the side of LGBT equality and human rights.”
Russia has been widely criticized for its anti-“propaganda” law that bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” The law is part of a broader crackdown on “positive liberties” and dissent stemming from the massive anti-government protests of December 2011.
“The United States can play an important role beyond the G-20 by pushing for clarification on how the anti-‘propaganda’ law will be used, highlighting the Russian government’s previous opposition to such a law, and leading a multilateral coalition to oppose discrimination and violence against LGBT people in Russia and elsewhere”, concluded Grekov.