By Justin Sink - 08/08/13 06:19 PM EDT
The White House is not considering a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, because of concerns over gay rights, press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.
On Wednesday, British actor Stephen Fry made headlines when he asked Prime Minister David Cameron to back a protest movement that favors boycotting the Olympics over new anti-gay laws recently signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Under the law, foreign citizens who provide information about the gay community to minors or hold gay pride rallies can face 15 days in jail and deportation.
Carney said that President Obama "absolutely opposes" the law, as he would any that "discriminate against individuals, whether for race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation."
He also said that Obama expects Russia to treat American athletes "with respect."
"The president was very clear about his views on the issues of, you know, gay rights, LGBT rights and concerns that have been raised internationally about laws in Russia, and his expectation that, as host of the Olympics, Russia will conduct them in a way that shines a favorable light on them as well as ensures the absolutely necessary and proper treatment of delegations and athletes," Carney said.
During an interview Tuesday with Jay Leno, the president said he had "no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them."
But Obama also said that "Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently."
"If Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam, and people’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have anything to do with it," Obama said.
The White House had previously dismissed calls by some lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to boycott the games over Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, the former Defense contractor who leaked information about top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs.