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Gay LA councilmen want US government to expand asylum for persecuted LGBT Russians

Resolution to replace earlier one seeking to sever Sister City ties with St. Petersburg
Mike_Bonin and Mitch_O'Farrell
Photo by Greg Hernandez

Los Angeles City Councilmen Mike Bonin and Mitch O'Farrell have introduced a resolution calling on the US government to expand asylum programs for LGBT Russians facing persecution.

Both Bonin and O'Farrell are newly elected and have been in office less than six weeks.

Both are also gay.

The resolution was introduced on Friday (9 August) and will be voted on by the City Council on 20 August. It calls for the expansion to occur 'immediately and aggressively,' according to FrontiersLA.com.

Their proposal replaces an earlier resolution by former Councilman Bill Rosendahl who had sought to have Los Angeles sever Sister City ties with the Russian city of St. Petersburg because of the country's anti-gay laws.

Rosendahl, who is also openly gay, left the council on 1 July when his term ended. The resolution was never brought before the full council for a vote.

Bonin and O'Farrell said in a joint statement: 'The City of Los Angeles has a long and proud history at the forefront of the struggle for full freedom and equality for the LGBT community. With three openly gay elected officials (including City Controller Ron Galperin), a staunchly pro-gay mayor (Eric Garcetti) and council, and several high-ranking LGBTQ city officials, that is a tradition that we are going to continue.'

On the day the resolution is voted on, the councilmen will participate in a ceremony where a rainbow flag will be attached to the St. Petersburg sign on the Sister City Monument at First and Main in downtown Los Angeles.

'We are also supporting and joining Mayor Garcetti in a campaign to get mayors and elected officials from Russia's sister cities and other American cities to sign a joint statement condemning St. Petersburg for persecution of the LGBT residents,' Bonin and O'Farrell stated.

They added that LGBT equality advances 'when we are visible, when we share the truth about our lives and our love, and when we constructively, repeatedly, and conspicuously engage with those who fear, misunderstand or oppose us.'

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