Some Russian LGBT activists have expressed their disappointment at their meeting with President Obama in St Petersburg on Friday.
Obama met the group of human rights activists,during his visit to the Russian city for the G20 summit, to show his support for their efforts to secure LGBT equality.
Russia has recently passed a number of anti-gay laws that have caused international outrage.
The meeting, which lasted about an hour and half, saw Obama express his admiration for the activists’ efforts. He noted that he had started out as an activist himself.
“I got my start as a community organiser, somebody who was working in what would be called an NGO in the international community. I got elected president by engaging people at a grass roots level,” he said.
Some of those who attended the meeting said that they were disappointed that Obama could not commit to being more outspoken in regard to Russia’s homophobic laws.
“The President said he can’t prioritise human rights in his relationship with Russia because there are other issues as well,” Igor Kochetkov, of the Russian LGBT Network, told Euronews.
“He was telling us how difficult it is for him to raise these issues, especially in relations with Russia and China,” Pavel Chikov, told AP.
Igor Kochetkov, the head of LGBT Network, who also attended the meeting, commented however that Obama sent a “clear signal that it’s impossible to discuss the human rights situation without discussing the problems faced by LGBT”.
“The rise of xenophobia, homophobia and anti-Western sentiments in Russia are inter-connected,” Kochetkov told AP.
During the G20 meeting, British Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the issue of LGBT rights with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“2am meeting with President Putin. A candid conversation on #Syria. I also raised concerns about gay rights,” said Cameron in a Tweet on Friday.