On August 7, the White House announced that President Obama had canceled a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin due to a short list of grievances. But, you know, mainly because of the whole political asylum for Edward Snowden thing.
Now, we’ve got a lot of beef with Russia, from Russia’s arming of the Syrian regime despite U.S. support of sanctions to a number of human rights abuses.
But it was that Snowden thing that really pissed Obama off.
Meanwhile, competing with coverage of the NSA leaks are photos of anti-gay violence that has swept through Russia after the passing of a federal law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” The bill had previously been slated as a ban on “homosexual propaganda,” but I guess
that was either too obvious or not broad enough.
This bill passed on June 11, almost two months before Obama canceled his one-on-one. It also happens to be right in the middle of what is nationally known as Pride month. In fact, just two days after the passage of this law, Obama gave a speech commemorating the struggles and achievements of the gay rights movement, and his administration’s progress on the quest for equality in the United States.
But nothing on the just-passed anti-homosexual propaganda bill in Russia.
Now, Pride is about the gay rights movement in America, so it’s not really surprising that it didn’t get a mention. But when, at the end of the month, Pride Parades throughout Russia drew violence from anti-gay aggressors,
still we heard nothing from the President.
In fact, we’ve only just heard Obama speak out against the heterosexist legislation being enacted in Russia, but only in response to calls for the U.S. to boycott the 2014 Olympics, which are to be held in Sochi.
When I was at Boston’s Pride parade last summer, I remember seeing posters campaigning for Obama’s reelection—LGBT for Obama, or something like that. Obama had finally come out in support for gay marriage and could now be counted as an ally! But in the time since Russia passed that anti-gay legislation, and gay rights activists were attacked throughout the country and neo-Nazis have allegedly been luring and torturing gay teenagers,
we’ve still seen no outrage from America’s “first gay president.”
When something happens that goes against your core beliefs, the natural response is to do something. Russia’s anti-gay activities have LGBT activists calling for the boycott of the Olympics both by nations and by gay and lesbian athletes, as well as the boycott of Russian vodka. Neither of these is necessarily the best way to make things better for the Russian LGBT community,
but they’ve sure helped raise awareness,
which is more than I can say for our fearless leader.
It’s time for the President to either back up his lofty words on equality or to relinquish the political privilege he enjoys by touting himself as an LGBT ally. You don’t get to be an ally just because you have gay friends, or gay staff members.
You don’t get to be an ally just because you’re not actively spreading hate.