What do Los Angeles and St. Petersburg, Florida have in common? They, along with several other cities around the globe, are Sister Cities to St. Petersburg, Russia -- one of the most homophobic cities in the world.
The city of St. Petersburg passed a law last year that makes it a crime to show any kind of public support for LGBT equality, which it calls "gay propaganda." Under the law, you can't even mention the word "gay!" Violators can be fined up to 500,000 rubles or even thrown in jail for 15 days.
And just this month, St. Petersburg's malicious anti-gay law was exported to the rest of Russia: President Vladimir Putin signed a national "gay propaganda" ban on July 1.
St. Petersburg's "gay propaganda" law singles out a vulnerable minority group for persecution and legitimizes violence against LGBT people. World cities that value LGBT human rights have an obligation to suspend their Sister City relationships with St. Petersburg, as Venice and Milan have already done, until this unconscionable law is repealed.
It’s time to urge Los Angeles, St. Petersburg, Florida, and all St. Petersburg's Sister Cities to stand up for LGBT human rights, and send a loud and clear message to Russia: imprisoning and fining people because of their sexual orientation is not something that deserves to be rewarded with “Sister City” status.