Lansing City Council Resolution To Condemn Anti-LGBT Rights Abuses In Russia

By |2013-07-29T09:00:00-04:00July 29th, 2013|Michigan, News|

LANSING – The Lansing City Council is expected to approve a resolution Monday which condemns anti-LGBT human rights abuses in the city’s Russian Sister City St. Petersburg. The resolution also encourages the Lansing Regional Sister Cities Commission to give St. Petersburg 90-days to “to reject its discriminatory laws and take decisive action to protect LGBT and allied citizens from violence, harassment and discrimination.” If St. Petersburg fails to take action, the resolution calls on the Commission to begin the process of severing ties with Russia’s second largest city.
The resolution is being offered by Jody Washington, who represents the city’s First Ward. During the July 22 Committee of the Whole meeting, the majority of the council expressed grave concerns about the ongoing relationship and voiced support for such a resolution.
While Mayor Virg Bernero participated in the resolution writing, his spokesman Randy Hannan tells Between The Lines via email he has not made a final decision about supporting the resolution.
“Mayor Bernero has not taken a position on the Council resolution,” Hannan wrote on Friday. “He will review its final language before determining if he will support it. He discussed the resolution with Councilmember Washington and one of her political consultants to provide his perspective as it was being drafted, but it remains to be seen if the final version will accurately reflect his views on the matter.”
In a statement released on July 22, Bernero unequivocally rejected severing ties with St. Petersburg.
“I encourage the City Council and the Commission to issue a resolution condemning the violence and discrimination in Russia,” Bernero said in a prepared statement released to the media. “We must denounce the bigotry, but we should not sever the Sister City Relationship, because we have the potential for progressive dialogue between citizens.”
Russian activists from St. Petersburg have encouraged the city to cut ties.
Lansing is not alone in struggling with the relationship with St. Petersburg. Los Angeles City Council has a resolution currently working its way through the bureaucracy there, and in Italy both Milan and Venice severed ties with the city last week.
And the abuses of LGBT people, plus the anti-LGBT propaganda law, have also raised the specter of boycotts as well. Gay bars in New York City and Chicago are reporting that they have pulled Russian brand vodkas off their shelves, while activists are calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. However, Russian advocates announced on Sunday that in spite of the gay ban, they would host a pride celebration in Sochi and are encouraging people not to boycott.

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