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. Meb Keflezighi in familiar spot as New York City Marathon underdog

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Meb Keflezighi AP

    Keflezighi faces tough odds to win Sunday, just as in Boston.

  2. USA Swimming names World Championships roster without Michael Phelps

    Oct 30, 2014, 2:23 PM EDT

    Ryan Lochte Getty Images

    The U.S. roster includes zero men who had the fastest time in the world this year in an Olympic event.

  3. Yuna Kim named Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic honorary ambassador

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:37 AM EDT

    Yuna Kim Getty Images

    Figure skating champion joins MLB outfielder, ballerina.

  4. Matt Anderson taking break from volleyball due to depression

    Oct 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Matt Anderson

    Anderson is the two-time reigning USA Volleyball Player of the Year.

  5. Caroline Wozniacki nervous for New York City Marathon, even in her dreams

    Oct 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Caroline Wozniacki Getty Images

    Tennis player flew from Singapore to Denmark to New York this week.

  6. Fire inside London Olympic Stadium (photos)

    Oct 29, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT

    Olympic Stadium

    Rising black smoke caused brief panic, but the fire was quickly put out.

  7. Shani Davis leads U.S. speed skating team for fall World Cups

    Oct 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT

    Shani Davis Getty Images

    One of the U.S.’ strongest skaters from last season is not on the team.

  8. Paralympic skier Josh Sundquist a foosball player for Halloween

    Oct 28, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    Josh Sundquist

    Sundquist was a partially eaten gingerbread man, a leg lamp and a flamingo in recent years.

  9. Germany will bid for 2024 Olympics

    Oct 28, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

    Germany flag Getty Images

    Either Berlin or Hamburg will be chosen in March.

  10. Boston 2024 unveils new website, promo video

    Oct 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    Boston 2024

    Those against Boston hosting an Olympics sent a letter to the USOC.

  11. Rio Olympic golf course given deadline to decide on moving 3 holes

    Oct 28, 2014, 9:03 AM EDT

    Rio Olympic golf course AP

    Judge rules in lawsuit over environmental concerns.

  12. Dilma Rousseff re-elected as Brazil president; Olympic impact

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

    Dilma Rousseff Getty Images

    Rousseff could join a short list of women to declare open an Olympics in two years.

  13. Oldest Olympic relay torchbearer dies at 102

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    Alexander Kaptarenko AP

    Alexander Kaptarenko carried a Sochi Olympic torch for 200 meters in December.

  14. Prosecutors to appeal Oscar Pistorius verdict, sentence

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    Pistorius was sentenced to no more than five years behind prison last week.

  15. Russian triumphs at Skate America; Gracie Gold third (video)

    Oct 26, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    Elena Radionova Getty Images

    Russian who was too young for Sochi Olympics takes title.

  16. Ted Ligety struggles in first race of season (video)

    Oct 26, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT

    Ted Ligety Getty Images

    Olympic champion’s worst-ever result in Soelden.