Skip to content

Obama: No tolerance for Russia treating gays, lesbians differently at Olympics (video)

Aug 7, 2013, 6:07 AM EDT

President Barack Obama was clear on his stance against Russia’s anti-gay law and how it should (or shouldn’t) affect the Sochi Olympics in an interview on “The Tonight Show” that aired Tuesday night.

“When it comes to universal rights, when it comes to people’s basic freedoms, that whether you are discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you are violating the basic morality that I think should transcend every country,” Obama said. “I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

Russian news outlet RT.com explains the Russian law here:

The legislation “prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality to minors” was enacted on June 30, when it was signed by president Putin. It’s an amendment to the law “On protecting children from information harmful to their health and development”.

If found guilty of promoting “non-traditional sexual relationships”, individuals could face fines of up to 5,000 rubles (US$150). The sum would be multiplied by 10 if those individuals appear to be civil servants. Organizations, meanwhile, would have to pay 1 million rubles (about $30,000) or have their activity suspended for 90 days if they do not comply with the fresh amendment.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told R-Sport last week that the law would be enforced during the Olympics, but other Russian officials have said the Games will be exempt.

The International Olympic Committee said two weeks ago it “received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

Obama echoed that sentiment.

“I think (Russian president Vladimir) Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and 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,” he said. “They’re athletes. They’re there to compete. If Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or on the balance beam. People’s sexual orientations shouldn’t have anything to do with it.”

Shaun White takes break from band to train for Sochi

Latest Posts
  1. Evan Lysacek: ‘My career is coming to an end’

    Sep 2, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

    Evan Lysacek Getty Images

    Olympic champ figure skater yet to make official decision, but shows which way he is leaning.

  2. Usain Bolt takes on all questions in India

    Sep 2, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt AP

    Would he rather race fast cars or cheetahs?

  3. Marlies Schild retires; impact on Mikaela Shiffrin

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:41 AM EDT

    Marlies Schild, Mikaela Shiffrin Getty Images

    Schild won silver behind Shiffrin in Sochi and is one of her idols.

  4. Carl Lewis becomes full-time University of Houston track coach

    Sep 1, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT

    Carl Lewis AP

    Lewis joins staff with two other Olympic sprint medalists.

  5. Berlin, Hamburg submit Olympic bid intentions

    Sep 1, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

    Germany flag Getty Images

    Germany is the latest rival to a potential U.S. Olympic bid in 2024.

  6. African wrestlers out of World Championships due to Ebola travel restrictions

    Sep 1, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

    Wrestling Getty Images

    Seven from Nigeria, two from Sierra Leone out due to Uzbekistan’s restrictions.

  7. Haley Anderson wins Pan Pacs open-water 10K by .01 after jellyfish sting, move to Maui

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT

    Haley Anderson Getty Images

    Olympic silver medalist swam three days after suffering allergic reaction to jellyfish sting.

  8. Gwen Jorgensen wins World Championship in triathlon

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT

    Gwen Jorgensen Rich Cruse/USA Triathlon

    American overcame a 69-second deficit, passing 19 women on the 10km run to cap dominating season.

  9. Henry Cejudo withdraws on eve of UFC fight debut

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

    Henry Cejudo Getty Images

    Olympic champion cites “medical reasons” hours before weigh-in.

  10. How the FIBA World Cup impacts the Olympics

    Aug 29, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT

    James Harden Getty Images

    Statistically, the U.S. might be better off not winning in Spain in the Olympic scope.

  11. Kayla Harrison wins bronze at World Judo Championships

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

    Kayla Harrison Getty Images

    Olympic champion missed 2013 Worlds after knee surgery.

  12. Gwen Jorgensen’s glory awaits in Edmonton

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Gwen Jorgensen Getty Images

    An accountant five years ago, triathlete is dominating after Olympic disappointment.

  13. Tyson Gay last place in Zurich; Jenny Simpson leads U.S. winners (video)

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT

    Tyson Gay

    Allyson Felix, David Rudisha beaten in first of two Diamond League finals meets.

  14. Man with cerebral palsy towed through Ironman by twin brother

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    tvilling

    Steen and Peder Mondrup completed the Ironman Copenhagen in 15 hours.

  15. Youth Olympics wrap with Closing Ceremony, Lionel Messi cameo (photos)

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT

    Closing Ceremony

    Olympic Flag handed over to Buenos Aires, host of 2018 Youth Olympics.

  16. Rio Olympics volunteer registration opens

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:37 AM EDT

    Rio 2016 Olympics Getty Images

    Officials looking for 70,000 people over the Olympics and Paralympics.

  17. Yao Ming reflects on Beijing 2008 at Youth Olympics (video)

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT

    Yao Ming, Lewis Johnson

    Chinese basketball star also updates on what he’s been doing in retirement.

  18. Thomas Bach hopes mixed-gender events in Nanjing impact Olympics (video)

    Aug 27, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Thomas Bach Getty Images

    IOC president sits down with Lewis Johnson at Youth Olympics.

  19. U.S. finishes Youth Olympics with 22 medals, 10 golds

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:52 PM EDT

    Sabrina Massialas Getty Images

    How can we apply the results looking ahead to the Rio Olympics?

  20. Zurich Diamond League final preview

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

    David Rudisha Getty Images

    Diamond Races up for grabs, plus Gay vs. Powell in the 100m.