President Obama is setting out to the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg this week to discuss more than Syria or Egypt. At the pressing of human rights activists, he is expected to take up the issue of gay rights, in what is sure to prove a tension-tightening moment with President Vladimir Putin.
Groups like Coming Out — a lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender organization based in St. Petersburg — are set to meet with Mr. Obama on Thursday, BuzzFeed reported. LGBT Network members are also expected at attend the meeting, set for the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Newsmax reported.
The meeting of Mr. Obama with gay rights groups is likely to drive up tensions between the two nations’ leaders, given the conflicting stances on Syria and Mr. Putin’s open-door welcome to National Security Agency intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.
The meeting also comes at a time when Russian authorities have stormed the offices of several human rights groups, accusing members of working for the U.S. government. On top of that, Russia just passed a law prohibiting the display or promotion of “untraditional sexual relations,” – a regulation aimed directly at the gay and transgender crowd.
On “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno last month, Mr. Obama said of Russia’s law 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,” Newsmax reported.