Obama calls for equal rights for gays ahead of Russia visit

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - United States President Barack Obama called for equal rights for gays on Wednesday, the eve of a visit to Russia where hotly disputed laws have been introduced cracking down on homosexuals.

"We share a belief in dignity and equality of every human being. That our daughters deserve the same opportunities as our sons. That our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters must be treated equally under the law," Mr Obama told reporters in Stockholm at a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredreik Reinfeldt.

Mr Obama is due to leave Sweden on Thursday for St Petersburg, where Russia is hosting a summit of the G-20.

A new law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June punishes the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors. Activists say it can be used for a broad crackdown against gays.