President Barack Obama is set to meet with leaders of several Russian social activist groups Friday, an event likely to touch on the sensitive subject of gay rights in the nation amid tensions over Syria.
Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law passed by parliament that bans the public discussion of gay rights and relationships where children might hear it. Violators can be fined and, if they are foreigners, deported.
Obama, who has advocated gay rights and same-sex marriage, has said that “nobody’s more offended than me” by the Russian law.
Critics say the Russian law is so vague that anyone can be prosecuted for wearing a rainbow T-shirt or holding hands in public with someone of the same sex.
At the event Friday in Russia, Obama is due to meet with representatives of groups that support a range of causes, including media freedom, protection of the environment and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.