Iceland capital proposes end to relations with Moscow over anti-gay laws

Reykjavik Mayor Jón Gnarr

Reykjavik Mayor Jón Gnarr

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Jón Gnarr, mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital city, on Monday submitted a proposal to end the city’s political and cultural relations with Moscow, after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two anti-gay bills into law.

Reykjavik Mayor Jón Gnarr

“In light of the developments concerning the affairs of gay, bisexual and transsexual people that have taken place in Russia over the last few months, the district attorney, Human Rights Office, Office of the Mayor of Reykjavík, and City of Reykjavík chief administrative officer propose amendments or the termination of the collaboration agreement between Reykjavík and Moscow, in cooperation with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs,” according to a statement from the city council.

At issue is a new Russian “homosexual propaganda” law that introduces fines of up to 5,000 roubles (about $150 USD) for citizens who disseminate information aimed at minors “directed at forming non-traditional sexual set-up” or which may cause a “distorted understanding” that gay and heterosexual relations are “socially equivalent.”

The law can also warrant arrests and even harsher financial penalties on LGBT rights advocates or organizations that are deemed as violating it.

Putin also signed a bill that sharply limits the adoption of Russian children by people from countries that allow same-sex marriage — such as Iceland.

In 2007, Reykjavík and Moscow became sister cities in an agreement that would see the municipalities exchange information and cooperate on policies regarding youth and family.

Gnarr’s proposal needs to be approved by the Ministry of Foreign affairs.

Urður Gunnarsdóttir, a spokesperson for the Ministry, said “this is a very unusual situation, and I’m not sure anything like this has been done before.”

Urður said he believes that while it is the Ministry’s duty to analyze what effect the move would have on the relations between Russia and Iceland, the decision to break off relations between Reykjavik and Moscow lies within the City Council itself.

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