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NY Lawmakers Urge Obama to Cancel Russia Trip

LGBT pols condemn persecution of gays by Putin

LGBT lawmakers from New York City and State sent a letter to President Barack Obama yesterday urging him to reconsider his planned diplomatic visit to Russia. They say Russia’s recent crackdown on LGBT expression should preclude any meeting between Obama and President Vladimir Putin, and diplomatic relations should be placed on hold until Russian authorities lift restrictions against gay rights.

 

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a candidate for mayor, released the letter to the media. Signees include LGBT lawmakers from the city council, the New York State Senate and the State Assembly.

 

“Given that President Putin and Russia have enacted laws to criminalize gay people and supporters and deny human rights to their LGBT citizens, they should not be the beneficiary of any trip by your office until they fully restore all civil rights to LGBT people in their country,” the letter says.

 

Below is the letter in its entirety.

 

 

August 4, 2013

  

Hon. Barack H. Obama

President of the United States of America 

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Obama:

 

We write as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elected officials from New York City in anticipation of your deciding whether to continue or cancel plans for an upcoming diplomatic trip to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  While you are considering whether to cancel that trip in light of Russia's decision to give asylum to Edward Snowden, we also urge you to consider the country's horrendous treatment of members of the LGBT community and its clear human rights abuses aimed at our community.

 

Russia has become a country that persecutes anyone who might be LGBT or supports gay rights.  As then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on behalf of your administration, "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights. It should never be a crime to be gay."

 

Given that President Putin and Russia have enacted laws to criminalize gay people and supporters and deny human rights to their LGBT citizens, they should not be the beneficiary of any trip by your office until they fully restore all civil rights to LGBT people in their country.

 

Recent actions taken by the Russian government have led LGBT citizens to face not only a society that is intolerant of their basic civil rights, but also a country that would imprison them for declaring support for their own fundamental rights as humans.  This has promoted an atmosphere of hate where gay people fear for their own lives and safety.  Police are allowed to arrest foreigners who are considered gay or pro-gay and detain them for up to 14 days.  Under their new law, as a pro-gay supporter even you could be subject to arrest and imprisonment while in Russia.

 

Mr. President, you will remember that in December 2011 the White House released a presidential memorandum directing executive officers and agencies that deal in foreign affairs to address human rights abuses against LGBT people abroad and to pressure foreign governments to decriminalize homosexuality.  Now it is time for you and your administration to directly act on this memorandum.  The LGBT community and its allies in Russia are under attack and the victims of clear human rights abuses.

 

We urge you to stand in solidarity with us. Refuse any diplomatic mission to Russia until President Putin stops these abuses now and agrees to make Russia a country that proudly supports its LGBT community and its allies worldwide.  We expect nothing less.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brad Hoylman

NYS Senator

 

Deborah J. Glick

NYS Assembly Member

 

Daniel J. O'Donnell

NYS Assembly Member

 

Matthew Titone

NYS Assembly Member

 

Micah Kellner

NYS Assembly Member

 

Christine C. Quinn

NYC Council Speaker

 

Rosie Mendez

NYC Council Member

 

Daniel Dromm

NYC Council Member

 

Jimmy Van Bramer

NYC Council Member

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