Lansing, MI May Cut Ties With St. Petersburg Over Anti-Gay Policies

Lansing, Michigan is currently listed as the "sister-city" to St. Petersburg, Russia. That may change soon, however, if Russia continues its intolerance of LGBT citizens and foreigners. is reporting that the Lansing City Council discussed ending their relationship with the Russian sister-city late Monday night, and plan to "take up a resolution soon". 

The issue was raised late last week by Councilwoman Jody Washington, who condemned Russia's new anti-gay laws, as well as the arrests of both citizens and foreign tourists that followed. "We need to say we do not tolerate this, we do not accept this." Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero also called the actions "abhorrent", but also maintained that diplomacy must be tried before resorting to such measures. 

According to Beaumont Enterprise…

"The city's relationship with one district of St. Petersburg formally began in 1994 with a youth exchange program but fell dormant after political and geographic districts of St. Petersburg were changed several years ago. The Sister Cities Commission's goal is to promote community understanding and appreciation of other cultures in hopes of creating a more peaceful world. Lansing has five other sister cities around the globe, as well as 'friendship cities' with which it has ties."

The Associated Press has sent a request for comment to Russian embassy in the U.S. Said request currently remains unanswered.


  1. karma cab boa says

    It’s interesting that people actually give a crap about this. In the Caribbean and most Muslim countries homosexuality itself is actually illegal. These are places that the royal baby will someday be king of. In most of the GCC, homosexuality is punishable by death. Why do you people care what Russia does?

  2. JONES says

    I care because I know what oppression feels like. I care for them the same as I do for the couple in Louisiana that still doesn’t have equality under law. Or the kid in Singapore that I promised to keep my voice active so that he doesn’t ever give up hope. So that he knows someone is fighting for him. And for the 11 year old girl in Yemen that refused to be sold into marriage. She had the courage to refuse because she heard voices tell her that she didn’t have to accept that kind of oppression. I care because standing silently on the sidelines as someone is being victimized is not what I do.

  3. Kev C says

    Karma Cab Boa, we care because Russia is becoming like the countries they pretend to be better than, namely muslim and african countries. A third-world sh:thole full of violence and corruption. Tolerence and acceptence of gays ALWAYS indicates a country that is more civilized, because gays are more civilized. Russia = not civilized, backwards.

  4. JMC says

    @Karma: Wait, so because gay people are persecuted more in other countries nobody should be pressuring Russia to stop scapegoating and oppressing its gay citizens? What? Do you think the push for equality in the US should cease because things are worse in Russia? lol

  5. karma cab boa says

    @KEV C
    That isn’t very convincing. Russia does not criticize other countries and pretend to be better than them, and they do not call them uncivilized shitholes. It certainly is isolated from the US and Western Europe, which makes it baffling because the Caribbean and Muslim world are not, and yet you tolerate this from them.

  6. Kev C says

    NYC and the northeast of the US has tons of russian immigrants. I see them everyday. It makes me uncomfortable knowing they are from a very homophobic place and may be homophobic as well. They certainly bring their uncivilized bad behaviors here too, like drinking and driving like lunatics. If they weren’t here in the mega thousands, it wouldn’t bother me so much.

  7. David From Canada says

    “Tell me who a man’s friends are, and I’ll tell you what the man is like”.
    Yes, Lansing, it’s time to cut ties with that pile of crap over in Russia. And the sooner, the better!

  8. tim b says

    I don’t suppose the city of St. Petersburg is going to be very fussed about falling into Lansing, MI’s bad graces. But good for Lansing anyway.

  9. Randy says

    I know the Sister Cities programs, and they are quite good. In fact, one of my best friends met his wife who was visiting from Germany on a Sister Cities student exchange program.

    That’s why I oppose this move. I know that it makes us all feel good that we are taking a stand against russia’s homophobic actions, but we need to look at the bigger picture, and longer term.

    We have lost Russia today. Every single city can cut it’s ties, and it won’t affect a damn thing. It only isolates them even more.

    What we should be doing instead, is laying the groundwork for their next generation to be more open minded. We do this by having their students, through the Sister Cities program, to come to study in the US for a year or two. They will meet gays, they will see gays getting married, and they will learn. Will all of them? No. But we can reach out to them and show them that there is nothing to be afraid of.

    Even more — a student exchange program might be the lifeline a gay student in Russia needs to get out for at least a year and be able to breath. In Russia, he or she has no options. But if they can get on the Sister Cities program and go to school in the US for two years, they can live normally for at least a little while. It’s hope.

    I realize it’s not just political posturing, and people want to do the right thing. It’s just I think the right thing is to kept communication open as much as possible and educated the next generation to be more gay friendly. By turning our backs totally on Russia’s citizens, we aren’t helping them at all.

  10. Randy says

    Russia is indeed a backward country. But they have people living there, and some of those people are gay. I see no reason to abandon any hope for them, isolate them, and tell them that, hey, we got ours in the states, and we don’t care about you?

  11. Teresa says

    I live in Lansing and didn’t even know we had sister cities, but I’m happy to see that we’re not standing for this. I’m also happy to see Lansing in the news in a positive light! Thanks R.J.! :)

  12. Daniel says

    Russia criminalizes any gay-inclusive religion – so if you belong to Episopals, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Chist, Community of Christ, Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaism, Conservative Judaism, or any other faith group where you wish to openly declare God wants gay people treated equally. If you say Jesus said to love one another and therefore gay people should be treated equal to their straight brothers and sisters, then you have broken the law in Russia. It is appalling how freedom of religion, conscience, and expression are dead in Russia because of Putin’s political ambitions.

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