Openly gay Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has introduced a resolution this week (14 February) to sever cultural ties with St. Petersburg because of the Russian city's anti-gay laws.
Los Angeles has been in a sister city relationship with St. Petersburg since 1993.
'The passage of this resolution will send a strong message that the city will not tolerate discrimination against our LGBT brothers and sisters in a sister city relationship,' said Rosendahl. 'We must stand together and continue to fight for our basic civil and human rights for all human beings on this earth.'
Rosendahl took the action after the ACLU of Southern California and the LA Gay & Lesbian Center urged city officials to reconsider its relationship with St. Petersburg.
'Los Angeles and St. Petersburg just aren’t in the same club, said the ACLU's James Gilliam. 'Truly global cities like LA celebrate their diversity and protect the rights of all residents. By passing its so-called anti-propaganda law, St. Petersburg has shown that it’s not the same sort of place, and has sent a chilling message to LGBT youth both in Russia and abroad: hide yourself, don’t speak up.'
The Italian cities of Venice and Milan have recently broken off cultural ties with St Petersburg because of its anti-gay laws.
In March 2012, a new law was adopted in St Petersburg, banning ‘propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderness among minors’ in the city. It punishes ‘homosexual propaganda’ in public with fines of up to $15,600.