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Russian Legislator Urges Putin To Enforce Gay Ban During The Olympics

Vitaly Valentinovich Milonov
At a legislative meeting in St. Petersburg, co-author of Russia's bill banning homosexuality Vitaly Valentinovich Milonov urged President Putin to not suspend the law during the Sochi Olympics, claiming that doing so would be "selective enforcement." This runs directly counter to the International Olympic Committe's assertions that athletes and spectators would be exempt from the gay ban law. According to Milonov,

[I]f a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.

The timing of the gay ban is going to be problematic for Russia. If it makes an exemption for the spectators and athletes of the Olympics, it undermines the "necessity" of the law and implies that "corruption of children and traditional values" are sometimes ok. If the law is strictly enforced, then it's only a matter of when - not if - spectators and athletes are arrested and deported, which would spark resentments and even possibly incite an international incident.


LA, Chicago Urged to Dump Their Russian 'Sister-Cities' Over Russia's Criminalization of Gay Rights

In response to Russia's new anti-gay propaganda law, both Los Angeles and Chicago have been urged by LGBT supporters to drop their sister cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow respectively.

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 3.51.34 PMEfforts to sever LA's ties to St. Petersburg have been ongoing for quite some time. Back in February, Los Angeles City Council introduced a resolution that would have severed the city's symbolic relationship with Russia, Frontiers LA reports:

"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,' openly gay City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl said in introducing his resolution on Feb. 12. 'We must stand together and continue to fight for our basic civil and human rights for all human beings on this earth."

Left unsaid in City Hall that day was the possibility - albeit perhaps a remote possibility - that the severing or even suspension of ties to St. Petersburg by the City of Los Angeles would send a resounding message of support for LGBT human rights from the ninth most economically powerful city in the world that other cities could use as cover to also sever ties.

St-petersburg-russiaWhile the resolution unfortunately failed to move out of committee in April, activists hope the new media attention being brought to the issue will help reignite the campaign. Additionally, a Change.org petition asking L.A. to sever ties with St. Petersburg has gathered over 2,000 signatures.    

Meanwhile, Equality Illinois has called on Chicago to end its relationship with Moscow.

From the statement:

"As the state's oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, we believe that it cannot be business as usual in Illinois' relations with Russia until that country's oppressive laws are reversed and gays are not targeted for oppression," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.

"From many small but meaningful steps, a national and then an international consensus will grow and ultimately, we believe, force Russia to change its behavior toward its gay citizens and visitors," Cherkasov said.

Previously, "Reykjavik Mayor Wants to Cut City's Ties with Moscow Over Russian Capital's Stance on Gay Rights" [tlrd]


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

Lansing 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. BeaumontEnterprise.com 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.


Vladimir Putin Signs Law Banning Promotion Of 'Homosexual Propaganda'

PutinIt's a sad day for our LGBT brothers and sisters in Russia. Today, President Vladimir Putin signed into law the disgusting bill banning the promotion of "homosexual propaganda" among minors. RIA Novosti reports:

Gay propaganda with the use of mass media or Internet resources will see harsher penalties of 50,000-100,000 rubles ($1,520-3,050) for individuals, 100,000-200,000 rubles ($3,050-6,115) for officials and 1 million rubles or 90-day suspension for legal entities.

While the law's proponents argue it is aimed at protecting children from harmful influences, critics allege the move is part of a broader crackdown on Russia's gay community.  

Even before the law's passage, international human rights organizations had publicly expressed their concerns that the antigay bill will be used to target openly LGBT Olympians at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Putin, meanwhile, attempted to downplay accusations of antigay bigotry by claiming sexual minorities are "full fledged members of our society and are not being discriminated against in any way." Putin should tell that to the dozens of gay rights supporters who were arrested at a bloody clash in St. Petersburg yesterday.


Blood Drawn in Major Clash at St. Petersburg, Russia Gay Rights Rally; Dozens Arrested — VIDEO

Stpetersburg

Dozens were arrested at a gay rights rally in St. Petersburg, Russia today.

Check out a stunning video of the clash, AFTER THE JUMP...

The AP reports:

Officials in St. Petersburg deemed that the rally, which took place in a space designated for public demonstrations, violated the law. The statute essentially prohibits public displays of homosexuality, as well as talking about it to children.

About 200 nationalists also gathered at the rally, chanting slogans such as "Sodomy will not pass," and throwing eggs and rocks at the gay-rights activists, who numbered about 40.

The state-run Itar-TASS news agency quoted an unnamed police official as saying police arrested dozens of people, including eight nationalists.

RIA Novosti adds:

The Russian LGBT network said on its Facebook page Saturday that several activists were beaten up by their opponents during the event, and more than 50 were held by the police. Eight of the anti-gay activists were detained as well, the police said. One of the police officers was injured while trying to detain an anti-gay activist, local Fonatanka.Ru news website reported.

The Field of Mars is the city’s “Hyde Park” where demonstrations are allowed without special sanctions.

Check out a stunning video of the clash, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Blood Drawn in Major Clash at St. Petersburg, Russia Gay Rights Rally; Dozens Arrested — VIDEO" »


Lady Gaga Thanks Russia's Medvedev For Opposing Anti-Gay Law

GagaRussiaTweet

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was asked last night about a spate of anti-gay laws in Russia, including the "gay propaganda" fines enacted in St. Petersburg, where Lady Gaga is performing this evening. Such laws are unnecessary, he said.

"Not all moral issues, behavioral habits and inter-personal communication patterns have to become legislatures," said the prime minister. "Because not all relationships have to be legislatively regulated."

Pleased by the PM's stand against his conservative allies, Lady Gaga tweeted him some love, "Thank You Prime Minister Medvedev for not standing by your party's anti gay propaganda law & instead supporting my show+fans all over Russia." Madonna of course flouted St. Petersburg's draconian edict, which led to fines, a failed $10 million lawsuit and a warning from the State Department.


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