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10 Key U.S. Allies With Antigay Laws Even Worse Than Russia's

in UNITED STATES, 06/10/2013

When President Vladimir Putin signed the anti-gay "propaganda" bill on June 30th, he was playing politics. In the name of both protecting children and opposing "Western values," he could curry favor with citizens and draw their attention away from other issues, like Russia's rising unemployment.

Putin surely knew he would trigger opposition in the United States; that was part of its political appeal. But he may not have anticipated such intense and sweeping opposition. American activists are engaging in boycotts and other forms of protest, Hitler analogies are flowing like vodka in Koltsovov, and President Obama has blasted the bill on the Tonight Show.

Note to heads of countries: Don't sign discriminatory bills as you're preparing to host the Olympics.

President Obama has pledged to lead internationally on LGBT rights, and to that end, he met with Russian LGBT activists (among other activists) during the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg. But as we recommend in our report -- "Convenient Targets: The Anti-Propaganda Law and the Threat to LGBT Rights in Russia" -- the president should ground his opposition to Russia's antigay law in a more consistent position vis-à-vis countries that criminalize homosexuality. This would not only be the right thing to do, it also would help demonstrate that his criticism of Russia's backslide on LGBT freedom is a matter of fundamental human rights, not a selective move in an increasingly testy bilateral relationship.

Homosexuality is illegal in more than 70 countries, and it's punishable by death in at least five and possibly in as many as seven. Many of these countries are key U.S. allies, frequent recipients of American aid, arms, and praise, including these ten.

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