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In Leno Appearance, Obama Speaks Out on Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws

"Tonight" Host Compares Situation to Nazi Germany

Appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on Tuesday, President Obama also addressed Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws, which have triggered a campaign to boycott Russian vodka and pressure on Hollywood studios to take a stand.

In a transcript released by NBC, Leno said, “Suddenly homosexuality is against the law. I mean, this sounds like Germany with let’s round up the Jews. Let’s round up the gays. It starts with that. You round up people who you don’t like. I mean, why is not more of the world outraged by this?”

Obama said that he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays of lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

Asked if he thought that the laws would affect the Olympics, Obama said, “You know, I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure that the Olympics work, and I think that they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently. They are athletes. They are there to compete. And if Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or the balance beam and people’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have anything to do with it.”

The Human Rights Campaign sent a letter to major Hollywood studios last week, asking them to use he high profile platform of movie premieres in Russia to focus attention on the laws. HRC also has called on NBC Universal to address the laws when it covers the Winter Games in Sochi next year.

White House photo: Leno with Obama during a break from the taping of “The Tonight Show” on Tuesday.

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