Councilman Bill Rosendahl wants the city of Los Angeles to sever its sister city ties with St. Petersburg over the Russian city’s recent passage of anti-gay laws.
On March 11, 2012, St. Petersburg joined several other Russian cities in enacting laws that criminalize homosexual “propaganda” like essays and photographs of gay, lesbian or transgendered people, as well as gay pride events. Violators could be fined up to $15,600, and 73 people have been charged under the anti-gay law as of July 2012, according to AFP.
As a result, Rosendahl, who is openly gay, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Los Angels Gay & Lesbian Center, wants L.A. to join other cities such as Venice and Milan, Italy in suspending its sister city relationship with St. Petersburg that L.A. established in 1989.
“The passing of this resolution sends a strong message that the city will not tolerate discrimination against our LGBT brothers and sisters in a sister city relationship,” Rosendahl said in a statement. “We must stand together and continue to fight for our basic civil and human rights for all human beings on this earth.”
Although Russia legalized homosexuality after the fall of the U.S.S.R, many municipalities have passed anti-gay legislation since. And, homosexuals were considered mentally ill in Russian until 1999.
“The ACLU reached out to us ... and we are very optimist and confident that this will pass,” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief of Public Affairs Jim Key.
Key said that the Gay & Lesbian Center will also reach out to St. Petersburg's other sister cities that in the U.S. include Lansing, Mich. and Galveston, Texas.
In the resolution introduced Tuesday, Rosendahl mentioned that L.A has cut ties with sister cities before – with Tehran as a result of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.