On Friday, after the G20 summit, President Barack Obama met with gay rights activists in Russia to discuss Russian law pertaining to gay rights, which bans the topic of gay rights and same sex relationships in the presence of a minor.
After meeting with the group, Obama, a gay rights advocate, stated that "The kinds of activities that are represented here are critically important to Russia's development and I'm very proud of their work. I think it's important to remember that in every country, here in Russia, in the United States, around the globe, that part of good government is making sure that we're creating space for civil society to function."
In recent months, gay activists and same sex couples have endured a rise in hate crimes such as the torture and murder of a 23 year old man in June after admitting that he was gay during a drinking session in Volgograd and the murder of a 39 year old man whose body was later placed into a car and set on fire.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov has a different perspective than Obama and the advocate group on gay rights in Russia. According to Lavrov, "homosexuality as you know, used to be a criminal act in the Soviet Union. This article in the criminal code has long been revealed and homosexuals can do their thing absolutely freely and without punishment."
He later added however, that under the propaganda law it is illegal to "aggressively promote their values, which are different from those of the majority, and to impose them on children."
The propaganda law, which passed in June of 2013, states that "propagandizing of non-traditional sexual relations among minors" is against the law and can result in a fine of 4,000 rubbles or $120.19 for an individual. However, the vague wording of the law has resulted in the fining and even imprisonment of gay Russian citizens for far less.
The meeting between the advocacy group and President Obama lasted for several hours and the head of the group, Igor Kochetkov, urged the president to be "more open while assessing the human rights situation in other countries, including Russia."
Although Obama did assure the group that he would urge Russia to respect human rights, he admitted that agreement on a topic like gay rights is not always promising.